Maytag Marriage Repair 2

A week ago, something ominous happened in my kitchen: the refrigerator went absolutely silent, with the door open and inner light on.

Minutes later the gentle hum returned, just as we noticed that the ice cream was melting and the refrigerated items weren’t very cold.  It was Saturday.

As we limped through the weekend, I began to suspect that a problem had been present for some time.  We had noticed that milk and cream had been going sour much too soon in recent weeks…

Appliance and marriage repair lessons begin.  

The first Maytag man entered our lives on Wednesday.  Within 15 minutes, he identified the source of our refrigeration problems – a failing compressor.  The estimated repair cost: $700-800.  The professional recommendation: purchase a new appliance.  I slowly began to see parallels between the Maytag man’s repair style and my own experience with marriage repair.  

Marriage Repair Lesson #1: Know when to call a professional.

First we tried our best. We cleaned the old refrigerator.  Re-arranged the contents. My husband even gave it a few whacks – just like errant soda machines – but without success.

Melting ice cream and sour milk prompted us to call the Maytag repairman as soon as the weekend ended.  But couples in trouble often show a different tendency. Research suggests that many couples live with unhappiness for about six years before seeking professional help for their relationship.

Marriage Take-Away: If your relationship has started to sour, and you can’t fix it, seek professional help sooner rather than later. (And by professional, I’d suggest any relationship expert: coach, counselor, therapist, etc.)

***

The second and third Maytag men entered our lives on Friday.  Their mission: out with the old, in with the new – but with a twist.

Marriage Repair Lesson #2: In with the new, out with the old.

I was shocked when the professionals announced that they would bring the new refrigerator in before taking the old out.  I had visions of utter chaos and crowded spaces – until I had an epiphany.  They would work more carefully to bring in the new refrigerator and protect its pristine appearance. This was the harder work.  In contrast, they could be less careful removing the old.

Sometimes couples get stuck – focusing so much attention on the old problem: distrust, poor communication, or disconnection.  They struggle to move forward without a vision of the new dynamic they want to create.

Marriage Take-Away: To repair a marriage, focus first on what you want to create (in with the new) and second on what you need to change (out with the old).

***

In order to bring the new refrigerator inside, the Maytag men had to dismantle  my front entry way.  I stared in awe as they removed what I had previously taken for granted.  I stood by my front door (off its hinges and propped against the entry wall) and watched. For about two hours.  As they wrestled one unit in and the other out.

Marriage Repair Lesson #3: Lasting change requires time and effort. 

My feet were getting tired by the time the men began to fully assemble the new refrigerator, but I was okay.  The shiny cold thing I’d waited for reposed in my kitchen.  I began to stock the new refrigerator while the Maytag men began to reassemble the front entrance of my home.

On the day I ordered the new refrigerator, the shop owner’s wife had referred to the installation as a “big job”.  On installation day, I finally understood what that meant.   Sadly, many couples don’t understand that repairing communication, trust, or connection in a marriage requires a consistent commitment of time and effort by each spouse. To get that shiny new relationship, they need to make a serious investment.

Marriage Take-Away: Commit time and effort to create the relationship change you desire.

***

Before the repairman left our house, they imparted  a very wise nugget of truth  – one that impacts my kitchen and every committed relationship.

Bonus Marriage Lesson: Routine maintenance prolongs effectiveness.      

As the repairmen removed the old refrigerator, it released a long trail of dust balls and yuck in its wake. I was mortified! After all, I had regularly cleaned around and behind the unit.  But I had never removed the back cover to vacuum out the inside of the unit.

News flash! With a dog, cat, house rabbit, and 4 people running in and out, I’m supposed to vacuum the new refrigerator monthly.  So I will. From now on.

I will not take this refrigerator for granted.  But as I pause, I recall that it’s pretty easy to take a marriage for granted.  Pretty easy to stop regularly doing those little daily things that improve communication, increase connection, or build trust.  So maybe it’s time to ramp up our marriage maintenance routines.

Marriage Take-Away: Make time each day to care for relationship you have.

That wraps up what I learned about marriage repair from the Maytag men.  My biggest take-away is the importance of regularly caring for what I have.

What’s yours?  Do you have any marriage repair or maintenance lessons to share?  Speak your mind in the comments!

If your Relationship With Yourself needs help, I encourage you to explore couples counseling

And if my words resonate with you, I invite you to contact me