When it comes to power tools, l have just enough experience to be dangerous. Like many people today, I enjoy tackling a job myself, rather than hiring someone else to do it. I’ll admit that whenever I start a project, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. But with the help of Youtube, I have successfully managed to tackle a wide range of projects including painting rooms, hanging wallpaper, tiling floors, refinishing cabinets, countertops and even wiring electricity. Sure, I’ve gotten my share of cuts, scrapes and mind-numbing electrocutions. Was it worth it? Of course! Because it was never really about a home-repair, it was about venturing beyond my comfort zone, tackling a monumental challenge and conquering it.
The DIY (do it yourself) attitude is a new part of our culture, which is clearly thriving in every Lowes and Home Depot across the country. It is a culture, where ordinary people realize that they are completely ignorant about a subject, but once given the right tools and a few instructions, are willing to take some risks and give it a shot.
When it comes to relationships, it is important to remember that they are no different; they require constant maintenance and repair. Just like any DIY project, you start with the proper tools and instructions necessary for success.
I have found that some couples that I counsel have a more natural ability to identify when there is a problem. They are adept at searching for and implementing solutions. They have mentors, therapists, spiritual advisors and books and podcasts to help them stay focused on constantly improving their marriage. Whenever a problem surfaces, out of deference for the thoughts, desires and feelings of their spouse, they can put their own agenda aside and listen, communicate and act in a way which reflects the depths of their friendship. It takes a tremendous amount of patience, self-control and hard work. It is this DIY attitude that couples can apply toward constantly patching their own relationship, which leads to long-term success. Of course, these couples also know when they are in over their heads. Like any DIY project gone awry, should a relationship problem get out of control, they know when to pick up the phone and engage a professional to get the help they need.
However, for the many couples which are ill-equipped with the tools or vocabulary to address small daily problems, not only will they grow apart, but over time, they are likely to slowly erode their relationship, causing small problems to turn into major ones. If a couple feels that their home is filled with more negativity and hostility than love and friendship – it is a sign that they may wish to take proactive steps to learn how to get their relationship on a better footing.
We all have a tool-belt filled with ‘power tools’ to help improve our relationships. But just because we are armed with tools such as communication, listening, caring, empathy and affection – does not mean we know how to properly use them. This is where it takes time and effort to research and learn how to use the tools, so that nobody gets hurt.
The key to good relationships is to, in fact, ‘do it yourself’. Through blood, sweat and tears, and making a fair share of mistakes along the way, a couple can learn to transform a relationship into a happy and fulfilling one. The one caveat, however, is that like any DIY project, you have to know your limitations and be willing to bring in a pro when needed.
To contact Ari Sytner for counseling, interventions or feedback, please click here.