WD-40 and Duct Tape

Do It Yourself (DIY) mechanics claim that you really need only two things in your toolbox:

WD-40 and duct tape.

Is something moving that shouldn’t be moving?  Grab the duct tape.

Is something stuck that should be moving?  Give it a shot of WD-40.

Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, writing in Psychology Today, suggests that our most important relationships can be kept in good working order by the relational equivalents of duct tape and WD-40.  This is especially true when it comes to three significant behaviors.

The first is acceptance.

Sharing life with another person pretty much guarantees that before long, in one way or another, you’re going to drive each other crazy.

But what happens next can make all the difference.

Whenever someone hurts us, we typically come face to face with an impulse to strike back.  Acceptance means choosing a better way to respond.  “Being able to let go of negative kneejerk retaliatory behaviors is like a quick shot of WD-40,” says Degges-White.

Otherwise we’ll get stuck in that old, familiar, you-hurt-me-so-now-I-get-to-sulk-or-strike-back mentality.

Here’s how the apostle Paul puts it in Colossians 3:13 (The Message):  “Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”

The second behavior is support.

Now we’re talking duct tape.

“Some of the more common examples [of support] include partners who volunteer to do favors for the other.  One partner might tackle the dishes before his mate even realizes that he’s taken ‘her turn.’  Perhaps one partner gets up early each day to secretly pack the other’s lunch so that she can sleep five minutes later.”

What do such small things accomplish?  They’re ways of saying, I value you.  You matter to me.

The bottom line is that they help couples stick together.

Finally, there’s commitment.

Degges-White suggests this requires a deft combination of both duct tape and WD-40.

Commitment is the determination to focus on the positive traits of your partner, rather than obsessing about the negative.  This is rarely something that we will feel like doing.  But it’s a settled attitude that we can choose, no matter how we feel.

Heartfelt commitment is the ultimate relational sticky tape.  And it helps soothe our spirits when life becomes rough.

So what’s the biggest obstacle to building our relationships on acceptance, support, and commitment?

We get tired.  We run out of gas.  Being an imperfect person called to love another imperfect person feels like the ultimate DIY project.  It sure seems as if we have to do everything by ourselves, in our own strength.

But God assures us there’s a better way to go.

It’s DIYBMOGGAP.  Do it yourself by means of God’s grace and power.

Which is the ultimate spiritual toolbox to carry our duct tape and WD-40.

— Authored by Glenn McDonald

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