One of the things I love about my partner is his ability (and talent) to perform basically all of our car maintenance and repair. He is fearless (as well as experienced) to take on this part of our household and I truly admire him for it. He has no qualms about doing research, getting the right tools and parts together, and scheduling a day for the repair or service. It brings him joy, a deep sense of accomplishment, and it saves us a ton of money.
This past weekend, we replaced my suspension. Yes, the suspension, meaning struts. It is quite a simple job when you look at the big picture; you jack the car up, remove the tires, take out the old strut, use a tool to tighten the shocks so the strut can be replaced, put in the new one, attach some bolts, and boom. New suspension. Well...that's the textbook version.
Let me step back a moment. I can personally speak to the satisfaction one gets from a day of vehicle work. I have learned so much from these repairs...and the biggest lesson of all is how to work with your partner under the stressful conditions of a car repair. It's like a laboratory for our relationship. Car repairs embody communication, trust, a sense of humor, a common goal/vision, etc. All of these things wrapped up in oil changes, new brakes, etc.
The repair was going quite fine. We spanned it across the weekend as we had previous commitments sprinkled in, including our engagement photos. The weather was quite delightful. I was suffering from a pulled muscle in my neck, so I was more immobile than usual, but was assisting where I could. The sun was out, life was good, we were making progress. Then....
The tool we were using for the shocks themselves started to malfunction. "Well this sucks," he said. The sun started to go down, it became damp outside, dew started to form. We were in the shit and it wasn't looking promising in the sense that I would have a vehicle for Monday morning. But you see, this is where the joy comes from. We worked together. I ran about grabbing tools, holding the flashlight, providing words of encouragement, where the old me would have started yelling about starting the project too late in the day, saying things like, "This is why we shouldn't do this," or "You don't know what you are doing." The old me would have succumbed to the pressure, the tension that was in existence at that moment in time. Magic happens when there is a pause between the stimulus-response. I provided the pause, he provided the creativity. We got to solve it together. We were both out there in the damp fall evening and we got it done.
Now, I am not your typical cheerleader for my partner. I don't stand by his side every waking moment saying, "You can do it!" and baking cookies every time he changes my oil, but my insight this weekend was more about the fact that when we come together despite the conditions and constraints around us, we are practically invincible. That gives me so much inspiration. It grows not only my unconditional love for him, but for our partnership. I am so grateful for that...and my new suspension.