Technology can be so frustrating.
I click “print” and wait a few seconds for the “I’m on it” whirring sound from my printer but instead I get crickets and error messages. Argh. Why isn’t it working?
I could say the same thing about my marriage.
I’d been having a problem with the printer. For some reason, it wasn’t printing. I was sending documents but kept getting error messages. I’m not a techie person, so I asked my former husband to help. But he didn’t seem to understand how much this mattered to me, so it wasn’t high on his list of things to do. In fact, it wasn’t on his radar screen at all.
And so the printer sat in its error state.
A few weeks later
After a week or so went by, I asked for his help again. This time there was a reluctant “I’m on it” whir. He sat down and tried a few things, but nothing worked. I suggested we phone the Geek Squad to have them take a look at it, but he didn’t like the idea of someone monkeying around with our computer.
Back to crickets.
So again, the printer sat in its error state.
A few months later
This went on for months, with me needing a printer that worked, asking for help, and him not truly understanding how much this meant to me.
Crickets and errors, crickets and errors.
Finally, I decided to phone a friend who’d told me to call anytime I had a computer issue. I explained what was going on. He asked a few questions and determined that when we set up our new router, we’d connected it incorrectly. I switched two cables around and presto chango! The printer sprang to life with the “I’m on it” whir I’d been waiting to hear. Out popped all the items that’d been sitting in the queue.
So the problem wasn’t with the printer.
The problem was with the connection.
Not long after this, I came to the difficult decision to leave my marriage. And although my leaving was certainly not about the printer, it did happen to be a really good metaphor for a large part of what was wrong in our marriage.
We had a connection problem.
As with the printer, I’d send him requests for help and wait for the “I’m on it” whir but only get crickets and error messages. But unlike the printer, our issue wasn’t going to be easily solved by switching a few cables. Our marriage had been sitting in a state of error for far too long; so long in fact that we’d hardwired it into a condition of permanent disconnection.
A year or so later
About a year after I moved out, I heard about a couple who schedule a coffee date every month to sit together and talk about their relationship. They talk about the things that are working and the things that aren’t. They talk about what matters to them.
They talk and they listen.
Through these scheduled dates, they are making their relationship and their connection to one another their top priority. They are taking the time to not only listen but hear what matters to each other. They address and fix issues before they become too big to overcome. In this way, they are hardwiring themselves together in a healthy way to keep their connection to one another strong.
They are a great example to follow.
Because whether you want your printer or relationship to work, you gotta check your connection.