Without warning, my car stopped working. Everything was plugging along nicely and then BAM!, nothing. No matter how hard I pressed the gas pedal, my car wouldn’t budge. I suspected my transmission went out. Unfortunately, I was right. It’s times like these where being right is grossly overrated.
I don’t know much about automobiles, except that a long time ago I did discover that they are similar to relationships. What happens to my car often teaches me a lot about what happens to relationships. Fundamentally, relationships and automobiles are both vehicles designed to transport people from where they are to where they want to be with as much safety and enjoyment as possible. Both require the participation of people to make them work. They need maintenance and care, and without it they are at risk of getting rusty, working ineffectively or not at all. Accidents can, and often do happen. The better care you take of relationships and automobiles, the better they work. The better company you choose to include in your relationship, or your car, the more enjoyable the ride. What you invest in your vehicle (gas, time, energy, love, etc….) is directly related to what you can expect to get in return.
Fast-forward one-and-a-half weeks, which is apparently equivalent to four days in transmission-speak as I was told, “It will take four days to fix ma’am.” I got a call from the friendly folks at unnamed (sheer kindness on my part) shop. He cheerfully shared that I could come on down and reclaim my car. With my pockets $2,650 lighter, I got behind my familiar steering wheel and headed home.
Like vehicles, when our relationship is ailing, it is wise to seek help. Whether it is a conversation with trusted friends, reading self-help books like Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, or seeking counseling, the point is, don’t ignore the problem. It usually gets worse.
I got about five miles from the shop when my car stopped working. Not just a little not working, a lot not working. I was unable to steer, brake, or accelerate. After seeing my life flash before me as I navigated my way out of traffic (okay, so that was a little dramatic, but it was very scary), I decided it wasn’t fixed after all.
I promptly called the friendly folk at the unnamed shop to see what to do. “Try to restart the car, ma’am,” I’m told. Uh, okay. Sure enough, it starts. “Can you bring it back here so we can take a look at it,” I’m asked. Against my better judgment, I agreed. After all, I did just spontaneously and unexpectedly lose all control of my vehicle without warning. This did not feel safe to me, and I was unsure what else to do.
I was told that they have sophisticated scanners that can read my engine and my transmission for codes that explain exactly what the problem is. While there are no fancy scanners for relationships, there are people who can be objective and experienced in seeing common issues for couples. As it turns out though, the fancy scanner revealed no problems. Nada. Nothing. Not so fancy if you ask me.
The transmission guy says, “I am 100% confident it was just a fluke and you will be safe.” To which I responded, “I am 100% confident that my car spontaneously stopped in the middle of traffic, and I will not feel safe in that vehicle until we know why.”
As if to humor me, transmission guy says, “We will keep your car here and have someone look at it tomorrow.” Two days later (remember, we’re on transmission shop time) I hear back that, “Your car definitely has a problem,” as if this was new information for me. Some harness wire thing on the top of the transmission (clearly I know all about this) was bad and contributed to the spontaneous shutdown of my car. So they replaced that. Relieved, I once again reclaimed my car and have been driving it since, without incident.
Important lessons: Never get in a vehicle, or a relationship, that is known to be unsafe. Pursue solutions until you get the help that works. We do not control our vehicles, or our relationships; we invest in them, care for them, and trust that by doing so we will get from them exactly what we need.