Maintenance. That was the first word the home inspector said to us as we prepared to move into our new home over a decade ago. We’ve done well in following that advice over the years. The little things were taken care of and the big things took care of themselves. Well, all the big things except the furnace, which died one winter on a bitterly cold Sunday morning!
I am now engaged in painting the laundry room, which has been the one exception to the regular maintenance schedule. The dust of a decade has been unearthed behind the dryer. I found an old baseball cap which disappeared a few years back. There are the usual nicks and dings that a laundry/mud room receives over the years. Some damage will take a little longer to patch, however. Allow me to introduce the other member of our household.
We brought home a Labradoodle puppy a few years ago who is now over one hundred pounds of tongue and love! We left our dog, Jack, in that same laundry room while we went out without him for the first time. We never did that again – ever. We returned home to find the place looking like the shower scene from Hitchcock’s Psycho. Jack just had a small cut on his paw, but as he shredded the drywall and wooden door, he left behind long red steaks throughout the laundry room.
Jack’s DNA has long since been removed, but the walls and door still bear witness to the great escape attempt. A marriage needs maintenance much like a home. A long weekend together can be as restorative to a couple as a fresh coat of paint is to a room. Ignoring a crack in the driveway can cause it to expand and undermine the foundation. Cracks can occur in a relationship through unspoken resentments, neglect, or harsh words. These splits can turn into unstable fault lines which undermine the foundations of a marriage.
A request for an explanation or clarity can clear up a misunderstanding that may have led to growing alienation between husband and wife. Couples who neglect to say, “I love you” to each other can be as noticeable as the neglected house in the neighborhood. Unless you’re a puppy suffering from separation anxiety, there is no excuse to claw at each other with harsh words and bad language.
The great G.K. Chesterton said, “If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.” (Orthodoxy, chapter 7)
The root of the word maintenance is maintain, meaning: keep going, don’t stop. Marriages can only be kept going if we don’t stop inviting God in to make a few timely repairs and help us restore our marriages to that new wedding day glow.