Love: Oil Change or Engine Rebuild?


You know that sticker on the upper left hand corner of your windshield…..the one that reminds you  to get your oil changed.  Well… do you use that sticker as a way to track your next date of service, or do you glance up every now and again, shout an “oh sh*t” and race to the nearest Jiffy Lube realizing you’re 5,000 miles overdue?

Funny enough, these two responses are really similar to how couples approach their relationships.  The oil change couples versus the engine rebuild couples. 

Let me explain….

Oil change couples approach their relationships as a vehicle they are committed to having stay on track and run smoothly.  They work really hard on prioritizing their relationship.  They schedule the important things in their relationship.  Spending time together alone as a couple, socializing with friends, making progress towards joint goal, etc, etc. 

Oil change couples tend to have a really high level of relationship satisfaction because they recognize the importance and value of working on their relationship and get to reap the benefits.  They’re more connected and engaged with one another and don’t minimize importance of spending time to establish and maintain their strong relationship and bond. They value safety, trust and intimacy as cornerstones for their relationship. 

In turn, their relationship hums along in a healthy manner because it’s been well maintained with regular and frequent attention. Now this is not to say that these couples don’t get the occasional flat tire or run low on windshield wiper fluid, but when it happens, they are able to get the relationship “road ready” more quickly.

On the other hand, engine rebuild couples approach their relationship in a more reactive and crisis management sort of manner.  These couples have the best of intentions to care and nurture their relationship, but they get off track when other commitments or obligations put strains on their time outside the relationship.  They forget that prioritizing the needs of their relationship should be at the top of their to-do list. 

Whether it is sheer busyness, distraction or just plain overwhelm, engine rebuild couples minimize the necessity of consistently working on their commitment to one another.  Sadly, when they look up and realize the relationship is falling apart, they have a much harder time getting back on track.  The damage that’s been done when they weren’t paying attention is significant and takes longer to repair. 

These repairs that engine rebuild couples need to make in order to get back on track tend to be more costly and are more emotionally strenuous.  Unfortunately, these couples often get frustrated during the repair process because they realize they could have, should have, and would have done it differently, if they had only remembered to check in a bit more often.  Rocks and potholes tend to plague the road back to one another. 

The good news is that engines can be rebuilt and old habits of forgetting to change the oil every 3000 miles can be remedied.  My challenge to you is to assess your own relationship and determine if you are the oil change or engine rebuild couple. 

If you are the oil change couple, congrats!  Keep up that regular maintenance; it’s so worth it. 

If you are the engine rebuild couple, now is the time to put that work into getting your relationship functioning on all cylinders again.  Whether its couples counseling, a couple’s retreat or simply working together to reprioritize the importance of the relationship, there is no time like the present.

Send me a message.  I want to hear from you!  What type of couple are you and what are you doing to prioritize regular maintenance on your relationship?  Send your feedback to or give me a call at 916.955.3200.