Someone once said, “The little things mean a lot.” But beg to differ; I believe the little things mean everything, especially when it comes to our lives and our relationship with those we love.
As a full-time men’s coach and mentor, I’m constantly asked by men AFTER their lives get “off track”:
“How I get here?”
“How did this happen?”
“How did it get this bad?”
“How did I get so lost?”
And that’s when I tell them, “You didn’t get here suddenly. You actually drifted over time.”
“You didn’t get here suddenly. You actually drifted over time.”
The truth of the matter is, getting off track isn’t usually a result of one bad decision, but rather a result of several small, bad decisions in a 4-step process that eventually lead to a bad end.
Allow me to explain.
Step 1: Compromise
The best things for us are usually easy to do, but that’s the problem; they’re also easy NOT to do. For the purpose of this article, I’ll focus on a relationship that ends in separation or divorce.
It’s easy to tell your wife or girlfriend you love her, but it’s also easy to not do it. You promise yourself, “I’ll never take her for granted. I’ll spend time with her; I’ll communicate with her, and I’ll tell her I love her every day.”
But then you compromise, and every day becomes “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and tomorrow becomes, “I’ll make time for her next week.” And next week becomes, “I’ll communicate more with her next month,” then so and so on.
That’s the compromise cycle.
Step 2: Corrosion
And if you don’t correct the compromise immediately, it will eventually lead to corrosion. I’m talking about the corrosion of your relationship. When you first compromised, you felt bad about it, and you promised to do better. However, since she hasn’t complained about the compromise, you didn’t self-correct, and slowly but surely, you started to miss the corrosion of the relationship.
And since she’s not questioning your behavior, neither are you; so, the corrosion of the relationship continues to go unnoticed. That’s how corrosion works; it slowly eats away at your relationships.
Step 3: Corruption
Eventually, all corrosion will lead to corruption. What does corruption in a relationship look like? It’s when it becomes easier and easier to make bad decisions in your relationship without thinking about the consequences. It’s at this stage when we tend to ignore our conscience. Your mate is starting to complain, but you’ve gotten so comfortable in compromising, you no longer see your choices as the problem but rather her attitude.
It’s at this stage that we start caring more about justifying our bad choices rather than understanding their hurt feelings. That’s when we try to chalk it up to them just being women, not realizing that the end is near.
Step 4: Collapse
The collapse of a relationship is the result of corruption reaching the end of its course.
Collapse is when the relationship finally breaks down, and communication ceases. Either she is asking for both of you to go to counseling, or she’s threatening separation or divorce. Even though it seems like it came out of left field, if you were honest with yourself, you knew it was coming. It was a natural progression that started with a small compromise that wasn’t corrected.
Although we’re talking about a relationship with a woman, we could easily replace this scenario with a relationship with our children, our boss, our friends, our teammates or whoever is close to us. We could even focus on addiction, poor health, or bad finances.
The truth is, whatever we fail to appreciate (with gratitude or attention) will fail to appreciate (in value). So, if you want to keep your life on track, never start compromising in the areas that matter most to you in your life.
Remember, the little things don’t mean a lot. The little things mean everything.