Man Looking Under Hood

“Your service life may vary…”


The culture of replaceability and technological obsolescence

As a culture, we’ve grown accustomed to industries and services that afford us the luxury of replacement over maintenance and repair. It is further enhanced by the love of new and evolving technologies over existing tried and true products that are developed and produced at affordable pricing to allow designed obsolescence. At best, it’s manufacturers who’ve created products that are intentionally designed to limit user maintenance, tune-ups and repair from their daily life and in many respects from the product’s service life almost entirely. We’ve also developed economies that afford us the tremendous ability to outsource those tasks and services that we would rather not due to nature of that labor, the environmental conditions of that labor, technical skill required to undertake those jobs and the time requirements associated with doing those functions. It’s a remarkable first world achievement. The hidden underbelly of this effect is that we are not cultured to the ideas, concepts or practices of maintaining other elements in our lives that need and require those skills and management abilities to flourish. We simply have excised the concept of maintenance from our lives. This cultural mindset has taken root into the sexual market place, where it is vastly easier to replace a partner than it is to learn the skills and management ability maintain a relationship, let alone repair deficiencies due to standard wear and tear, or exercise restraint in operational use to prevent a breakdown. The hidden cost is dramatically high, emotionally, financially and physically. This cost plays and radiates out from an individual personal level, to the family, into a cultural and ultimately within a society as a whole. The inability culturally to maintain and support personal relationship structures, such as marriages, has proven to collapse entire social cultures and threatens greater societies on a whole.

The nature of maintenance

Maintenance on a basic level accounts for operator observation to the performance of the system being utilized, the characteristics of the environment in which the system is being utilized and how that affects the system standards of performance and wear and tear expectations, the life cycle point of the system, standard conditional use benchmarks for inspections, testing and servicing of subsystems and to the servicing and replacement of subsystem faults, as they occur or ideally before they actually fault, as part of a service replacement schedule, to include integration of safeguarding practices. Having relationship maintenance skills and management protocols and abilities in place to ensure care, appropriate handling and servicing of the relationship and your partners needs will help afford for the relationship’s reliability, quality, longevity, provide increase relationship safety and to preserve invested relationship capital and equity.

Vehicle maintenance analogy

If we choose to use a vehicle as our model for a system, maintenance would start with the driver being cognizant of observable traits, characteristics and performance levels for the vehicle… He’ll notice when the tires a low, when the vehicle pulls to one side when being driven and the unique characteristics of the engine sounds as it moves along, accelerates and decelerates. He will also recognize the environmental conditions in which the vehicle is being driven will affect performance and maintenance requirements… stop and go traffic is very different from highway driving… not only will your mileage vary, but so to the wear and tear. Don’t get me started with racing and drifting… (It amazes me how many guys treat their relationships like something out of the movie Fast and Furious and are perplexed when they wreck it.) Likewise the life cycle point of the vehicle is important… simply the age of the vehicle will dictates the degree of maintenance requirements, as well as expected performance. Brand new vehicles need to be broken in and handled with care, as do antiques. Vehicles in their service years need increasing servicing, as the demands on their individual subsystems mounts (hydraulics, oils, belts, tires, brakes, transmissions etc..). These subsystems should be inspected and tested prior to anticipated fault points, not just evenly periodic intervals or mileage benchmarks. A hard driven vehicle pulling considerable loads will need more care and attention than if it was simply being taken out for weekend country drives. Lastly the operator will include safeguarding measures to prevent corrosion, ensure structural integrity, and safety considerations whether that comes in the form of washing and waxing a vehicle to prevent corrosion, the driving practices that limit damage, or the safety practices of wearing a seat belt and having appropriate insurance coverage. Intimate interpersonal relationships can draw directly from this analogy, even though the major subsystems will be quite dramatically different, the key then is knowing what they are.

Maintenance is not repair

Repairing a relationship once broken is not maintenance and should never be considered as such. Utilizing a system beyond its breaking point is terribly poor maintenance practice and management, yet that is precisely what most people do with their relationships because we lack the skills, experience and proven ability to do otherwise. Repair should be closely linked to a one-time costs and expenditure limits associated with brining the relationship back to fully serviceable condition. This is to ensure the appropriateness for one to make the repair in the first place, to obtain operational effectiveness afterwards and to make sure that a series of subsystem failures do not exceed one’s maintenance expenditure limits. Sadly people too often keep investing heavily in relationship repair when they shouldn’t be, that the repair are unlikely to result in operational expectations and that smaller sub-issue failures ultimately exceed the value of repairing the relationship. This isn’t to mean that there are not cases where it is entirely appropriately to completely salvage a relationship and completely re-structure, re-tool and to rebuild it, but those cases are few and far in-between and in the majority of the cases always involve children.

Willful misconduct

Worse off than negligence are those acts of willful misconduct either in damaging the relationship initially or through the consequences of our failure to appropriately manage the relationship repair once the initial damage is done. This occurs when we are hurt, angry and vengeful and we lash out in defiance to our partner, the situation and ultimately from the emotional dependencies from our past that are triggering and inflaming our response. When we harm our partner and our relationship in response to a relationship fault, we ultimately hurt ourselves. The inability to recognize and respond appropriately to boundaries, to control one’s emotional impulses and resolve personal emotional dependencies apart from relationship issues will invariably lead to the wrecking of the relationship, from our own accord, not from the original infraction. We are never justified in damaging others or our relationship in seeking a resolution to a fault or infraction. Relationships and partners handled in that regard don’t need repairing, should be classified as unserviceable and ultimately junked in quick order.


Relationship Management

Relationship manager






“Think ahead.  Don’t let day-to-day operations drive out  planning.”


The common nature of management…

We manage things all the time; our time, our energy, our resources, etc… some things need more attention that others and what gets our focus is a form of management. Managing issues through crisis or repeat crisis’s is a form of management, and so too is procrastination. While on the surface of it most of us would recognize that both of these are probably not the most appropriate or effective, but we all do it, even though we understand that there are other ways to seek out better results, in a more efficient and effective manner. People don’t need deep expertise and experience to understand the simple concepts and framework of management, when applied on a regular basis will produce dramatically superior results, we just need a general awareness of the principles and a consistent approach at implementing them over time, to develop behavior patterns that are in sync with those actions.

Simple things over and over again…

Management is boring. Really boring. It is about performing a series of tasks over and over again to gain a determined result, while maintaining and retaining staff. Boiled down to the simplest charge; good managers achieve results while retaining people… While this may sound very simplistic, because it is, it does not underscore the depth and breadth of complex issues, competing demands and hidden expectations surrounding any management function on any level, but it is what we ultimately are striving for…

It’s about people…

Business’s have increasingly recognized this for over a century now… as society has moved past the Industrial Age and well into the information and knowledge economy, businesses have become more and more cognizant of the importance of management and social skills are to the bottom line. While efficiency management, then project management were driving themes in management theory, successful business have recognized that good managers and leaders are the single most important group for determining whether an organization succeeds or fails… So too with relationships. The ability of partners to think and act like managers by developing a solid relationship with their partner, establishing clear and open lines of communication, appropriately leading by forming a consensus through collaboration building, being accountable for decision-making by seeking out and providing direct feedback to and for each other, while reducing fear, deepening trust and increasing respect have a much higher chance of achieving their relationship goals than do couples who do not. They will have a ‘business’ that runs more smoothly, are happier and more satisfying than those that fail to.

Management as craft…

Management is a craft. It take time to learn the basics, to develop real world experience and to foster the individual culture of self-development and improvement. You will make mistakes in judgment, errors of execution and negligence of action. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake, but you make things worse by staying blind to your own errors without correction. It is hugely important to make daily mindful choices of actively practicing what we have learned and started to develop with others that surround your life. Strong competent managers are not simply born, they are developed; through hard work, careful analysis of their experiences and relentless self-education. It is a relationship craft that doesn’t get a lot of press or attention until they are missing… and when it is, benign negligence isn’t so benign.