Last week the check engine light came on in my car. I always panic a little when I see that red light on my dashboard. First I’m afraid that the car will die right there on the freeway. Then I start thinking how much this going to cost me to get fixed.

Since the light wasn’t flashing (a signal that it is something serious) I stopped by a local auto parts store. They will hook up a diagnostic tool to your car’s computer and tell what is wrong for free. I like free.

Within a minute the error code came up. It was a P0301! Wow. I would have never guessed that. Actually I had no idea what that code meant. But the young woman who did the test knew exactly what it meant. She told me that I had a “cylinder one misfire.” Most likely it could be fixed with new spark plugs. I might want to check the wiring. It might need a tune up.

Then she asked when was the last time I had the car tuned up? I bought the car used and I don’t think I ever had a tune up on it. As long as it was running, I didn’t see the need. Even when there did seem to be a problem, I just hoped it would go away.

Maybe you’ve done this too. You put a piece of tape over the warning light. You turn the radio up louder to cover the sound that you hear under the hood. I know a guy who fired up a propane camping stove going in the back seat of his car because the heater wasn’t working!

I guess it’s human nature. We wait until things get really bad before we finally do something about it. When the car no longer starts we call the mechanic. When the tooth pain becomes intolerable, we call the dentist. When we can’t get out of a chair without severe knee pain, we make an appointment with the surgeon.

If we wait too long we can experience negative consequences. I have a friend who ignored a low oil warning light in his car. The oil drained out and the engine froze.

Maybe you’ve experienced this. Perhaps it wasn’t your car, but a relationship. You experienced a little pain but ignored it hoping the hurt would go away. Then the criticisms, the harsh words, the betrayals became more frequent and more intense. Maybe you tried to ignore the pain and you filled your life with other things hoping to drown out your own screams. After a while you realize that the love has drained out of you and the relationship frozen.

Now you have a choice. Dump the relationship, or rebuild it. Both can be time consuming and painful.

Marriage counselors say that couples often wait six years after the trouble begins to finally seek professional help.

We don’t need to wait until our marriages completely fall apart before we get some help. If we seek wise counsel when the trouble starts we can often head off a lot more pain.

Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”  – Proverbs 27:12

Get a relationship tune up before there is any sign of trouble.

Be intentional about your marriage. This can be as simple as having a regular date night, or maybe reading and discussing a book together. It might be getting together with other couples to talk about love relationships. How about doing a well-check with a marriage counselor. Get away on a vacation together. Go on a marriage retreat.

Please, don’t wait until the warning lights start flashing!

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