The Work of Love: Relationships, Like Cars, Require Maintenance

You don’t want to find yourself in the Divorce Court before you discover that your partner has been feeling unfulfilled with you for a long time.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

By Richard Matzkin

In romantic movies, there’s often a common theme: guy and gal meet, fall in love, experience some kind of disconnect in their relationship, but finally discover they really love each other. Then: lights up, show over. We are left to assume that it’s “happy-ever-after.”

That’s fantasy. In the real world, the relationship is just getting started after the honeymoon period wears off. That is when the real work of a relationship begins. The work begins with taking on responsibility, having goodwill, and employing focused attention. With the dedication to make your relationship blossom, a deeper form of love can begin to manifest.

Great relationships take work…care-filled, ongoing attention. It’s like the way you need to treat your car. You don’t neglect your automobile and assume it will go on forever after. No. If you want a smooth-running car that will last a long time, you listen for unusual sounds from the engine, keep your eyes on the gauges, change oil, add coolant, check tire pressure. You dust and vacuum the interior, wash and polish the exterior. You’ve made a big investment in your automobile and you want it to serve you well.

You have made an investment in your relationship too, and you want it to keep paying off in terms of making you both happy. So, like caring for your car, you must be attentive to the state of your relationship. You need to keep checking in with your partner to make sure things are clicking along. Ask her how you are doing as her partner and what you can do to improve. Listen to her responses. Try not to blame or be defensive. Make changes that are needed.

You also need to keep abreast of your own feelings so that you can sense if things are not right. Be accountable. Monitor your behavior in order to be aware of how you are treating your partner. Are you appreciative of your partner? Are you being unselfish with them? Do you attempt to manipulate them? Are you being dependable? Do you express your love for them? These things are important for “relationship maintenance.”

As with a car, the sooner that you become aware of problems that are beginning to emerge, the easier it will be to make repairs. You don’t want to wait until you’ve blown a head gasket till you check the oil. And you don’t want to find yourself in the Divorce Court before you discover that your partner has been feeling unfulfilled with you for a long time.

If you find yourself with problems that are beyond your knowledge and ability to fix, don’t be quick to give up and look around for a new model. Consider seeking the help of a “relationship mechanic”, a specialist with experience in couple and family therapy who can provide insight into communication, conflict resolution, sexual problems, and other issues. An expert can help with a relationship tune-up that can furnish new perspectives that you can both get back on the road again.

This post was originally published on The Good Men Project.

About Richard Matzkin

Richard Matzkin has been active in the men’s movement since the early ’80s. He is a jazz drummer, sculptor, and the author of MANifesto: A Call For Men To Become Warriors For Kindness and the dual award-winning books, LOVING PROMISES: The Master Class For Creating Magnificent Relationship, and, THE ART OF AGING: Celebrating The Authentic Aging Self.

He has a blissful almost-40 year marriage to his wife, Alice. His forthcoming book, ManKINDness: How A Man Can Become A More Lovable and Love-Able Partner, releases at the beginning of 2021. To see more about him, and to view his sculptures of old people, go to
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