Every morning after returning home from taking the girls to school, I spend a few minutes cleaning up the breakfast mess they left behind. Today my actions were no different as I reached for the dishrag draped over the sink and gave it the smell test to see if it was clean. It seemed okay to me but, just to be safe, I put the rag in the laundry basket and got out a new one to wipe off the counter.

Dishrags are a privilege, not a right, in our kitchen. I learned this the year after Bill and I were married and there never seemed to be a dishrag around when I needed one. Where they could be hiding in our tiny apartment baffled me until one day, when I asked Bill if he had seen the rag that was in the sink the night before.

“I threw it away.” he said matter-of-factly, as if it was the natural thing to do.

“Why wouldn’t you put it in dirty laundry?” I asked, dumbfounded that he would throw something away that could be washed and used another day.

“You let them get so bad that I don’t want them near the rest of our clothes.” he said, showing no remorse.

Looking back on this conversation, I realize that relationships are a lot like those dishrags. How easy it is to discard one when it becomes too unpleasant to deal with. Rather than take the time to restore a relationship to its original condition, we leave it behind and choose instead to make a fresh start.

Relationships, like dishrags, can be salvaged with the proper care and, when we take the time to do so, we find they are never in short supply.