The one thing I know for sure about relationships is I don't know much about relationships. Sitting on the precipice of a half-century, I'm still single. If I'm being completely honest, I'm pretty happy with that.

I have had some good relationships, and I'm still working on that magic formula that leads to one that stands the test of time. Sure it has a lot to do with the people in the relationship, but as I get older (and hopefully a smidge wiser) I'm learning that you really do need to give it some attention. Like so many plants that have passed through my life, if you ignore them and neglect feeding/nurturing them, they will wither and die.

If you have been reading along for a few weeks, months or even years (wow) you know that this little article is intended to be focused on real estate. So while I am excited about what I am currently learning about relationships, it also occurred to me this morning, while making some yummy eggs, that there is a bit of cross-over with the relationship you have with your home and the one you have with your partner. Both need time and attention less they begin to wither and fade. Let's take a dive in and see what we can learn.

One invaluable lesson I learned in the last year is about sweeping "problems" under the rug. In a relationship, this leads to (what a therapist would refer to as) "resentments." The more you placate each other and don't talk about the inevitable issues that arise, the more those resentments grow. Then one day something as innocuous as leaving the milk out on the counter, blows up into a full-on argument. Regrettable things are said and feelings get hurt over something so silly and so easily avoidable.

With a home, ignoring those small signs that trouble is afoot is equally dangerous. This is the case both during a home inspection as well as during your daily life in the home. Large over-hanging icicles in front of the windows are a great example. While they do make for an impressive photo or painting, the trouble lurking underneath can be devastating.

"Those icicles are not only a sign of terrible insulation, they are wreaking havoc on your roof, gutters and shingles," Badger Realty agent Karla Badger said.

Essentially what is happening is the heat is escaping your home and melting the snow on the roof. That snowmelt then slides down the roof into the gutter and freezes. Then as that cycle continues, the icicle grows (and looks neato) while at the same time creeping its way up under the shingles and rotting the wood beneath. So while you have a lovely Thomas Kinkade painting as you drive up the driveway, the impending damage and costs are going to be anything but picturesque.

Another thing I'm learning about relating to one's partner is the story we tell or the "narrative." This is the filter through which we talk to ourselves about our partner. If we take the same incident from above (which I should clarify is wholly fictional), we can "talk" to ourselves in two different ways.

After a while, it becomes easier to slip into the negative "tone" and look at the incident with those resentments in place. "He left the milk out because he is lazy and doesn't care" is clearly looking at the glass half empty.

If we flip that script and lean into the positive — "she left the milk out because she's working a ton of hours and is simply exhausted" — we tend to view our partner's behavior with more compassion and love. Yes, we're getting all squishy today.

Sliding back over to our house analogy, we can also become more negative with the tone with which we talk about our house. As you may recall, I lived in a 300-square foot cabin for about three years. It was very easy to be negative about the lack of space, storage, privacy (with guests) and general living area.

But it was also true that it was incredibly inexpensive, right next to a water park, three minutes from downtown Lincoln and my landlord was awesome. I loved that little cabin and it was my home for a long time.

Rather than focus on all that it didn't have, I tried to focus on the positives. I'm convinced that I would not have lasted as long as I did had I always just focused on what it lacked.

While I recognize we are approaching Valentine's Day, that single day is really not what this article is about. The reality is, those couples that are happiest and (most likely) still together have found a way to focus on the positive and give their partner the benefit of the doubt. They know it is very easy to be negative, but they make the effort to choose compassion and love.

They also are smart (aware) enough to recognize that there will be issues and challenges. The trick is to address them and work through them. Don't ignore the big icicles hanging off the front of your home. Make your relationships and your home a priority. Give them both the attention and love they deserve.

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