It’s Labor Day weekend, so let’s discuss work.
Everyone talks about relationships and how much work they require. I would tend to agree. Aligning lives is definitely not easy and there’s a daily amount of compromise and work that should be done to maintain it. However, we have it so drilled into our heads that relationships equal work that some of us might be doing more work than should be required. There’s work . . . and then there’s hard labor. They are not one and the same.
I figured this out while thinking about the cars that I’ve had over the course of my life. For years I lived on the Gold Coast and didn’t need a car. When I eventually moved to a less convenient neighborhood, I needed transportation, so I purchased my Altima. I loved my Altima, if only because it enabled my freedom. I took care of it with the hope that it would take care of me in return. I maintained it impeccably. I washed it frequently and stayed on top of the maintenance schedule, such as oil changes and tire rotations.
With all of my efforts, that car was nothing but trouble. Anyone ever read the Stephen King tale of Christine, the possessed car? Well, my vehicle was her slightly less evil little sister.
There were all kinds of weird mechanical defects, like the gas gauge that indicated ¼ tank when I was on empty. I’ve also never had more freak accidents. There was one incident of the car being hit by a mysterious flying tire while I was driving along the JFK Expressway. Another time it was parked and a 19-year-old from Indiana (who was driving a truck seemingly constructed of kryptonite) backed into it and knocked off the entire front end. My favorite was the delightful woman (with finger waves) who was driving the wrong way across Congress and caused a three-car accident.
I fixed that car faithfully after each incident because I believed that maintenance was a general requirement. But between the general upkeep, the insurance estimates, the visits to the dealership and random mechanics, and the anxiety of what would happen next, I was completely worn out.
After the last accident, I concluded that Christine Jr. stressed me the hell out. It required an unnecessary amount of work and provided a very low return on my financial and psychological investments. I was committed to my car, but it had to go. Before it killed me.
I eventually settled on a BMW, which I absolutely love. We coexist beautifully. I take care of it; it takes care of me. There are no problems as long as I hold up my end of the deal. It runs smoothly and gets me where I need to be. Yes, it requires some maintenance and work, but I don’t really mind because the good experience outweighs the amount of work required.
So . . . back to relationships. Do you have an Altima or a BMW?
Does the amount of work required seem like a grind? Or is the daily maintenance so minor that it’s almost fun? While relationships do require a lot of daily give-and-take, too much consistent toil isn’t necessarily a good sign.
If you feel like you should receive a W-2 form for your hard work in your relationship, it might be time to consider a trade-in for a less labor intensive model.
Have a wonderful holiday!