Steve Garrett shares with us the importance of putting relationships to the test.
Just like we put our cars through an annual check to make sure they’re still fit to take us safely where we want to go, I think couples would benefit from taking a regular Relationship Toad Test (RRT). Maybe this should be scheduled once a month for new ‘drivers’, and at least every three years for those with more experience. A RRT can help avoid any risk of taking each other, or the relationship, for granted. The RRT can help by not letting needed repairs build up to a point where the ‘love vehicle’ poses a danger. In the process of the RRT you can find out if the relationship needs to be fixed (and outside help may be needed for this) or should be scrapped.
I believe the outcome of this kind of regular joint reflection would be more couples journeying further together, rather than either partner dumping the relationship and looking for a new one before they need to. In any case, a new love affair is never going to be that ‘new’ because a key element, i.e. ‘you’, is going to be the same as before. Unlike a new car, new relationships never come with any kind of guarantee. Rather than shopping for a used model, it may be better for all kinds of reasons to repair the vehicle you have. At least you know what it’s problems are. This could be better than taking on board a whole bunch of new, and as yet unknown, headaches that make you wish you’d stuck with the old one!
The underlying belief is that a renewed commitment to supporting and sharing a partner’s growth can be the path to an ever deepening connection which will yield rich treasures as part of a constant process of change. This is opposed to the continuous process of changing partners which may well be a cover-up for avoiding the challenging and magnificent experience of truly knowing and being known by another person.
A relationship must be a living, growing and changing thing if it is going to keep running.
Both partners need the courage and curiosity to accept, and engage with, the inevitable changes each other (and themselves) will go through over time. Provided that any RRT is undertaken by mutual agreement, and with an agreed openness to fully embracing and responding to whatever (if anything) seems to need changing (in the view of either or both partners). The RRT can create a uniquely safe environment in which to air any buried grievances. Like postponed repairs on a noisy car engine, ignoring them in the short term may lead to a complete breakdown further down the road. Road testing your relationship can clear up any misunderstandings, and confirm or rebuild mutual trust and commitment.
.. Or not. I’ve a good friend who has been doing an annual RRT for several years now, and he says it has delivered huge dividends in terms of helping him create a deeper and more open connection with his partner. However, it is also risky. On more than one occasion, this process of sharing minds and hearts has resulted in a decision that it would actually be in the best interests of he and his partner to dismantle their love truck and recycle whatever parts they could salvage before it falls apart of its own accord. He feels, and I agree, that it was better to acknowledge and accept if there was something irreparable with a particular transport of delight, and retire it from the road in a safe and non damaging way rather than have it explode unpredictably and leave him burnt out and stranded in the desert somewhere.
How reassuring to both partners if, after honest and fearless reflection, their commitment to each other has been reaffirmed. They know they are staying together from a place of choosing freely rather than because either one is too lazy, shut down, or afraid to make the change deep in their heart that they actually want. It feels to me like an excellent way to create an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and trust in a relationship. What better foundation can there be for intimacy than that?
The RRT may need to take place over a few days; the important thing is that there is enough time set aside without distractions for any issues which come up to be fully and sensitively addressed. I know this may be easier said than done for many of us with ‘busy’ lives, but the amount of time saved in unnecessary pain and upset further down the road will more than justify the investment made in this process now.
A regular RRT will maintain your shared Lovemobile in top shape and keep it running for as long as possible so it can take you wherever you want. Don’t forget to keep it pumped up, cool, and well lubricated with plenty of the air of understanding, the water of love, and the oil of kindness and good humur.
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