When we talk about a relationship, we often talk about the foundation and how important it is. I agree, without a good foundation, your relationship is going to fall over pretty soon. If we talk about the foundation of a relationship, we can make an analogy that it’s like building. So if a relationship is a building we must also talk about the walls, the scaffolding, and maintenance. Why do we always talk about the importance of a good foundation but not the other parts of building a relationship?
The thing I love about any construction is that no matter how advanced our technology gets, it’s still a manual job, just like a relationship, we still need to consciously build brick by brick, building the scaffolding around the building as we move up. The scaffolding is what holds you up while you experience life, while you are away from each other for work, when you have a falling out, it’s how you go to the next level and build higher. Without trust, your relationship can be a beautiful foundation and a nice wall, but it’s not a building or a home. So memories and experiences are the bricks, and trust is the scaffolding, let me explain what I mean. When we first meet someone our trust in them is at ground level, we can lay some bricks but we don’t share the deep stuff (deepest fears, kinks, core values). If that person breaks our trust, it’s not a big deal because we are still at laying down the first few bricks, if we fall it’s not a big deal to get back up. But once you start to know each other, and start building a relationship the bricks become too high for you to be on ground level and you must use scaffolding, or trust, to build more memories. Now if someone betrays your trust, and your scaffolding goes crashing down you are left with a half-built house, an injury (normally to the heart), and sometimes a lawsuit. The best example of this is when someone cheats in a relationship. Trust is down to zero but the memories are still there if you want to continue building the relationship you have to rebuild the scaffolding before you can continue to build the house.
But a relationship is more than just building memories, it’s building a life together and that requires maintenance. If you’ve ever restored a house you know that people often don’t do proper maintenance if any. To put it simply, when the signs of something breaking first appear we normally ignore them until it’s too late. In terms of a relationship, we normally don’t communicate things when they bother us, and this leads to pent up frustration meaning we don’t do any maintenance. Do yourself a favor and look at the wall above your door. Its probably got a crack on it, and you probably told yourself that you would fix that soon but you haven’t. This is exactly what happens in a relationship, there is a problem that either you, your partner or both of you see but don’t address. Over time this pent up stress will grow and cause a major issue that could cause the house, the relationship, to collapse.
Everyones least favorite part of living is maintenance. Nobody likes replacing lightbulbs, windows, or spending hundreds of dollars to replace an air conditioning unit. So when we build this relationship we are also living in what we built of the house. We need to do maintenance or the building could cave on us, even if we have a good foundation and our scaffolding is solid. This is a part of any relationship that we don’t normally talk about because we don’t often look back to see what our partners gave up to make us happy, how we compromised for the sake of one person in the relationship. Maintenance is addressing the issues, identifying when the kitchen door is squeaky, when one of you has always done laundry and needs a break. In a relationship, you need to see what parts you have left untouched for a while to make sure no pent up stress is slowly causing damage to the entire building. If the relationship is not maintained, it’ll start to crumble and fall until it’s a dilapidated memory.
Throughout life, you are going to build a city, multiple houses with significant others, family, and friends. You’ll build skyscrapers with organizations (churches, schools, companies, etc.). You’ll undoubtedly leave some buildings half completed, abandon some, and constantly build and maintain a few others. At the end of the day, it’s the buildings you put time into, the ones that you maintain, and rebuild the scaffolding that will be the most beautiful. Just look at the Sagrada Familia, over a hundred years and they haven’t given up on it. Now it’s viewed as the most beautiful building on earth.