Is Your Relationship Like Our Chicken House?

Stupid title?  But you’re curious, aren’t you?

Last weekend, my son, Jamie, and I replaced the shingles on our chicken house.  Here’s the stupid part:  I’ve known the shingles needed to be replaced for 4 or 5 years.  Each year, they became more distorted from the heat.  The grit had washed right off them, and in places they were totally worn off so you could see the grain of the plywood sheathing underneath.  That means the rain could run right under the shingles, and possibly leak into the insulation in the attic, the ceiling material, and leak inside.  Not a good thing, especially if you’re a chicken wanting to stay dry in the rainstorm.

But I’m not that chicken, and it’s just a chicken house.  I didn’t want to spend the money to fix the roof.  I didn’t want to take the time to do it – I was way too busy.  And I surely wouldn’t hire someone else – I know how to do it.  I convinced myself that it would be OK for a bit longer.  I think I even bought into the B.S. story that if I just ignored it, it would be fine.

But it wasn’t fine. When Jamie and I finally tackled the project, it was a big job.  We had to replace rotten plywood in some places, patch rotten roof rafters, and replace rotten facia material.  Besides the cost the shingles, there was the cost of plywood, 2 X 4’s, nails, screws, and several hours of time.   And what’s the cost of the frustration?  Those emotions can’t be measured in dollars.

The building is in fine shape now, but if I’d ignored it, each rainy or snowy day would add detrimental stress to its structure.  If I’d kept putting it off with my excuses, there would come a time when it would be irreparable.

Ah, now does my question make sense?  Is your relationship like our chicken house?

Let’s consider your relationship with your life-partner, although this works exactly the same in any relationship you have, personal or professional.

  • How long has it been since you noticed your relationship was not in an exceptionally good condition?
  • Have there been heated times where things have become distorted?
  • Has the honesty, respect, and kindness worn thin in places, exposing a layer of graininess or roughness?
  • Has there been some damage to the structure or foundation of your relationship due to lack of attention?

Now the tough question:  What stories and excuses have you been telling yourself, which have kept you from doing what you know you need to do?

And the even tougher questions:  If you keep putting the work off, what is the price you’ll have to pay in time, effort, frustration, heart-ache, and money?  And if you don’t do anything, how long will your relationship last before it’s irreparable?

The quality of your relationship may be fabulous, especially if you’ve been reading these articles and applying my challenges.  Or the quality of your relationship may be at the other end of the scale in regard to your feelings of satisfaction.  Regardless, there is always room for improvement.

So my challenge, should you choose to accept it, is this:  Honestly evaluate your level of fulfillment and satisfaction in your relationship, and do one thing today to make it a bit better.

Some ideas to consider:

  • Rate your level of satisfaction in your relationship on a scale from 1 to 10. Be honest.  1 is very unsatisfied – you feel unhappy, discouraged, not-respected, misunderstood, not-cared-for, ticked-off, maybe even angry.  10 is totally satisfied – you’re extremely satisfied and fulfilled – it’s better than ever and getting better every day in every way.  Choose a number that rates your satisfaction.
  • Ask your partner to rate his/her level of satisfaction in the same way (I invite you to ask, please refrain from telling).
  • Agree to take an hour or two together, without distractions, to honestly talk about your ratings, how you feel, what you’d like your relationship to be, and to each commit to one thing you will do NOW, to move your rating up, even a wee bit.

Through this process, I invite you to leave your egos in the chicken house.  Speak accountably, which means there will be no blame or need to be right.  Listen attentively, with the intention to understand your partner, rather than to argue or defend.

In other words, be willing to commit to do just one thing today to bump up your level of fulfillment and satisfaction just a wee bit.  Notice the results and how it feels.

Here’s the bottom line. There is nothing more important in life than happiness.  It is not the end, it is the means.  And it is your choice.

And tomorrow, what are you going to do?  One thing? It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?