Now I can imagine this morning that you are wondering what in the world thermostats have to do with your marriage or relationship. You may be thinking that perhaps I am going to talk about the temperature gauge of your relationships or something like that. But actually, it is going to be different than you may think.
Recently, while carrying a load of laundry through the hallway, I reached over to adjust the thermostat on the heat/AC. When I touched it, static electricity from my finger hit the thermostat and fried the digital readout. I tried putting in new batteries and some other creative ideas, but nothing would fix it. Ultimately, I had to go buy a new thermostat. As I shared my story with the sales associate at Home Depot, he said, “your static shock that morning is not what blew out the thermostat.” Surprised, I said “its not?” He replied, “no, it is the fact that you have probably static shocked that a hundred times. Each time, it builds up in the system until finally your most recent one was what pushed it over the functional edge.”
Many times I sit with clients in my office and hear about the latest crisis that has sent them over the edge. It may be a major contention or, more frequently, something that, to the outside observer, seems so trivial. And yet, what transpires with this couple is what happened to my thermostat. It wasn’t the single unkind word or demeaning comment that brought them to the edge of splitting. It was the fact that unkind words of this nature had been uttered hundreds of times before. This was just the one that finally blew out their ability to hold it together. Rather than allow your negative words and sometimes toxic treatment of your spouse to build up over time to an explosive point, I want to encourage you to distress the situation instead. What words and deeds can you use today that will begin to build bridges that create long-term health instead? How is your thermostat?