50 years ago today, a young couple took their vows, pledging to see things through, for better or worse. As the son of these two quirky human beings, I look back at the decades of their marriage and marvel at all they have been through. In particular, while I was in high school, when Dad walked out the door telling Mom he was “done.” Half a century later, they have always found a way to work through their issues and build a stronger relationship. Just a few weeks ago, they bought each other anniversary rings to celebrate this milestone and their lives together (which is both sweet and cheesy, but hey, that’s my parents).

As a divorced man who is now remarried, I know that not all relationships were built to last, and that prolonging dysfunctional ones is harmful and counterproductive. This holds true in personal and professional life. Some relationships with employees and clients merely hit rough patches, while others should be brought to an end for the benefit of all parties involved.

Honest assessment of any “marriage,” including employment or partnership with a customer, starts with an appraisal of the state of the relationship. If it’s good, why is it good? If it’s not, what’s missing or not working. When a relationship is in trouble, an important question must also be explored: What’s more mutually beneficial—working through the issues or going separate ways. Rigorous honesty promotes the natural process of ebb and flow in relationships that is part of business and personal life.

And, by the way, Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

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