THE BLOG
01/26/2016 10:23 am ET Updated Jan 26, 2017

Relationship Compass

The couple was struggling to find the first tourist attraction. They were both clutching their iPhones, squinting vainly at the screen, but without a signal, they were lost. I could see them gesticulating at each other, pointing in various directions, and obvious flashes of annoyance that the other didn't agree. It was kind of amusing to watch. The guy kept poking at his phone, willing the GPS to work. Not going to happen on top of the mountain. Clearly they each thought they were right. And the poor paper map was crumpled and worn, like they had been doing this all day. I went over to help and they both smiled and in a different language, argued their case. I think they were Italian. I was secretly amused since the entire mapped area wasn't more than a mile square. If they had just lifted their heads up and started walking around they would see the direction. I shrugged, not comprehending their language, pointed at the map and then pointed to the landmark. "Ahhhh, " they said, now seeing clearly. They crumpled the map back into the bag and set off, hand-in-hand, for the desired spot. Map reading is a lost art.

With all of our PCs, Macs, GPS, Google maps and MapQuests, people can't seem to read maps any more. They get used to using technology for the quick fix. Push a few buttons and the route magically appears and then a little voice tells us where to go. It's great, as long as you've got a signal.

Sometimes we take things for granted. We just push a button or two and our little voice tells us where to go. It's lovely when life is that simple and we get to where we want to go easily. Until something doesn't work right and we get lost. As hard as we try to do what has always worked, we don't get the results we want. We are reluctant to try something new when the old ways seemed to work just fine... until they don't. We get confused, frustrated, and even think about abandoning the map.

All we really need is a sense of direction. If we start down one path, it will be the right one, until it isn't. It's pretty easy to change. I know my GPS, aptly named "the B," is wrong on occasion. But the funny thing is, we don't need a map or a GPS to find our way. If you open your eyes and look up from the map, you might be able to see what's in front of you.

Nonetheless, it is important to learn how to read maps. Pay attention to the clues around you. Your friends, family and partner will usually let you know when something is wrong. Doesn't mean they are right but it might provide a landmark that will be useful. In the end, it doesn't matter who won or lost, just that you came up with a path that works. Forget the map; you'll still get there if you try.

Maybe I should sell relationship compasses?