Sunday, May 21, 2017

WANTED: REPAIRS

 My new-to-me car was blue, my favorite color. 

In addition to a powerful V8, the Buick Lucerne CXL, 4 door sedan featured all 5 possible luxury packages including a remote start which activated automatic temperature control for the interior and warming (or cooling) for the cream-colored leather seats. Also included were airbag and braking safety features; rain-sense wipers, tachometer and cruise control; heated, auto-dimming mirrors; specialty lighting and sound systems and interior trim, and much more.


Everything I could think to have for economy (25-30 mpg), safety, comfort, and pleasure; and many things I hadn’t even considered (like tire pressure sensors) were mine, all mine! 

And it was a steal! Found almost by chance through a surprising turn of events, I knew it was for me. I knew God (fate, karma, or whatever you may ascribe such blessings to) had provided me with a choice car, in my cash price range (very low), at the very time I needed it most. Kindness and love from family members also assisted possible ownership to become a reality. 

The ride was exhilarating.

There was an accident that dented the front passenger door extensively. Although it could be opened and closed, the window was not functional and the glass was cracked so severely that safety was an issue. 



Should I drive the car with damage?
Mechanically, the car was sound.
Should I ignore the issues?
Of course not!

I loved the car, and immediately had the entire door completely repaired so it, and the window, could be used without hindrance.

Marriage can be compared to my car.
There should be benefits, safety, comfort, pleasure—and joy.

Courtship may be amazing, perhaps even in the way you meet, and soon a date is set, plans with loved ones launched, and the exhilaration of marriage begins.

Eventually a few bumps, and perchance an accident—or two—cause a dent in the relationship or damage to feelings of one or both partners.

Should the issues be ignored?
Of course not!

Although the relationship is still intact,
 repair is needed, something more than polishing or waxing. 

Hurt feelings, and dented egos devalue connections, diminish trust, and contribute to future concerns.



Over time, extensive damage on a car will worsen causing paint to fail, and the canker of rust to begin. And cracked glass eventually breaks. The integrity of the entire vehicle can be jeopardized.

Family, and marriages (and other cherished loved ones) have much deeper inherent value than cars. They also need daily care, frequent maintenance, 
and occasional repairs. 

President Deiter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints advises, “Set aside pride.

“Sincerely apologizing to your children, your [spouse], your family, or your friends is not a sign of weakness but of strength. …Even when you are not at fault—perhaps especially when you are not at fault—let love conquer pride” (April 2016, In Praise of Those Who Save).


In 2012 President Uchtdorf instructed, “When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!
It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love …” (Uchtdorf, Deiter F., The Merciful Obtain Mercy, April 2012).

New York Times bestselling authors of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John M. Gottman and Nan Silver,  claim successful marriage repair attempts are one of the “primary factors in whether [a] marriage is likely to flourish” (p. 27) and one of the most “important findings” from the 
Love Lab,” in Seattle. 

After decades of research involving thousands of couples, they claim to be able to predict marital breakdown to divorce with an astonishing 91% average accuracy rate (p.2; see also Mathematics of Marriage: Predicting Divorce). 

Repair attempts among couples vary and have no particular format, but “are a secret weapon” of happy couples even though they “aren’t even aware that they are employing something so powerful” 
(p. 27).


The terminology ‘repair attempts’ describes “any statement or action—silly or otherwise—that prevents negativity from escalating out of control,” and “what determines the success of [a couple’s] repair attempts is the strength of their marital friendship” (p. 27).

Sounds simple, right?
We should be nice, no?

 Dr. Gottman warns that friendship is anything but simple. In marriage, he found friendship is surprisingly complex. Nevertheless, “When a couple have a strong friendship they naturally become experts at sending each other repair attempts and at correctly reading those sent their way” (p. 27). 

What makes marriage work? 


 Dr. John M. Gottman 

Dr. Gottman notes seven ways that happy marriages are alike, but the core finding of decades of research with his colleagues points to one “simple truth” (p. 21). “Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship . . . a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company.” Couples in enduring relationships “are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams, . . . have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness . . . through small gestures day in and day out” (p. 21).



Gottman advocates repair. Just as my car required repair, so do relationships, and the best repairs prevent further damage. Repairs may require 5 positives for each negative.

Cars have purpose and so do marriages, but as Gottman advises, “Most marital arguments cannot be resolved” (p.28)—especially not as readily as a car can be repaired. Yet, instead of wasting time in conflict, he reminds us that couples can “learn how to live with [their differences] by honoring and respecting each other …”. Successful relationships “don’t just ‘get along’—they support each other’s hopes and aspirations and build purpose into their lives together” (p.28).  

President Utchdorf also counsels, “Great marriages are built … day after day, over a lifetime. And that is good news. Because no matter how flat your relationship may be at the present, if you keep adding pebbles of kindness, compassion, listening, sacrifice, understanding, and selflessness, eventually a mighty pyramid will begin to grow.


“If it appears to take forever, remember: happy marriages are meant to last forever! So ‘be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great [marriage]. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great’ (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33).

“It may be a gradual work, but it doesn’t have to be a cheerless one. In fact, at the risk of stating the obvious, divorce rarely happens when the husband and wife are happy.

“So be happy!” 
(April 2016, In Praise of Those Who Save)  

References:

Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: a practical guide from the country's foremost relationship expert. New York: Harmony Books.