My son is in the middle of replacing our family room’s floor. Last week he had taken up the old floor, so there were only joists for a few days. You could look through the spaces between the joists and see our basement about 12 feet down.

I came home one day and found all the family room windows wide open. I didn’t know if it was supposed to rain or not, but it looked a little cloudy, so I figured I should close them. Using my cell phone as a flashlight (because the lights in the room had been disconnected), I carefully stepped over each 15-inch gap to walk on each 3-inch joist toward the first window.

I awkwardly closed and locked one window and turned toward the next one on the opposite side of the room. I stepped onto a joist…and then I slipped. Somehow, I was able to turn as I fell so each arm grabbed joists on either side of me, and I caught myself. Half my body was in the family room and half my body was suspended over the basement floor.

I thought about just letting go and falling onto the floor, but I imagined I’d really hurt myself. So, I pulled the lower part of my body up and swung my legs over one of the joists and stood up very, very carefully.

I assumed I’d be sore the next day. I mean, at 67 years old, this kind of accident can really do some damage. But I was fine. I did have a scratch that went up from the bottom of my back to my shoulder blade, but even that didn’t hurt. I was confused. Why didn’t I feel worse? Even in the days that followed, I expected something to ache. But, nothing came. How?

My physical therapist said it was the daily yoga stretching I’ve been doing for a year. She said the twists and body contortions I made during the fall were similar to the movements I make during my stretching. My body was well-oiled. It was ready for the fall.

Relationships work the same way. When we “practice” being the kind of person we need to be during the good times, we’re more able to deal with the challenges that come up when there’s conflict and difficult times—when we need to step carefully and not fall. But if we do fall, we’ll be in better shape to pick ourselves up and make sure that we, and our relationships, are okay.