I’ve heard it said that an airplane is typically “on course” only about 3 percent of the time. It is not a problem because the pilot is constantly making small adjustments that get the aircraft back on course. If he didn’t, however, a plane leaving New York for L.A. might end up in Vancouver (which might not be all bad, but that’s another topic).
This seems to me to be an important illustration about life. Most of us get discouraged and quit when we get off track, whether it be our fitness program or building a healthy relationship. By the time a couple gets to my office, they often wonder out loud “how did we get so far off track?”. Often the simple answer is that they just didn’t pay enough attention to staying on track. They weren’t even aware they needed to pay attention to it. They assumed they would stay on track naturally.
It is a failure to embrace one of the basic givens of being human–everything changes, erodes, or transforms over time. It is not a bad thing, but if we fail to recognize it, then this reality will have its way with us, and often take us places we’d rather not end up.
If, on the other hand, a couple would embrace the idea that 97 percent of the time their relationship is not going to be perfectly on track, then they are in position to make those constant small calibrations which keep them from getting too far off track, and not have such a long journey back to that magic 3% zone.