What a fun way to look at a relationship this week! And it's so true. As Tamara talked about maintenance and its importance on Tuesday, I am going to piggyback that and talk about warning lights! What happens if you don't take care of the maintenance? Or what if you've been in a car for awhile, it's a little older, and a warning light comes on? Do you ignore it? I hope not! You might wind up on a country road, no bars on your phone, and no where to turn. You want to get that light checked right away. It could be nothing, maybe just some "bad gas"! Or it could mean something is wrong. Maybe the car just needs a little TLC. Or it could need an entire new engine! That's the point, you don't know. So you go to a professional to have them check it out. The worst thing you can do is pretend you don't see it.
Unfortunately, we see many people in relationships who saw warning signs but completely ignored it. They could tell their spouse was unhappy but were afraid to ask because it might cause conflict. They thought their partner was preoccupied but never imagined it was a porn addiction. Or maybe their partner even tried to tell them they were not happy in the relationship and they didn't listen. Only to find out months later they had turned to another person to meet their needs. We see this all too often. We see people who ignored the warning lights and didn't get it checked out.
Getting it checked out in relationships doesn't always mean you go to a professional right away. It could just mean talking to your partner and saying you see something going on in the relationship and want to talk about it. You may be able to work it out just by bringing it up and talking. Just like in a car- when the oil light comes on, if you get the oil changed right away it should be ok. But if you wait too long, you will need more than an oil change. So if you wait too long in a relationship, you probably will need professional help. The problems grow a life of their own and will need a good, objective person to assist you in pulling them apart and working thru them.
The car analogy does not just apply to marriages. It can be applied to friends, family, or co-workers, too. If there is a problem at work with someone and you don't address it, it could get bigger. If you see a friend getting depressed or becoming addicted to something and you ignore it, it could get bigger and become more problematic. We are not here to solve everyone else's problems or fix everyone, but sometimes a friend just needs someone outside of themselves to mention something they might not see.
So take care of those warning lights! Right when they come on! Don't sweep them under the rug or pretend you don't see them. You might end up stranded all alone! Thank you for reading. Tune in tomorrow as Joleen talks about more car analogies.
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.