We've had an on-again, off-again relationship for more than a decade. I guess if I'm going to come clean, I shoulder most of the responsibility for the spotty patches. Relationships require a certain amount of effort; I wasn't consistent about the maintenance needed to keep things running smoothly. I realized I was being lax, but just sort of took things for granted. It happens to the best of us - when it comes to our appliances.

My dishwasher and I existed harmoniously for months - even years - at a time.

He did the job he was purchased to do. I supplied him with dirty dishes and 97 minutes later relieved him of clean ones.

We had a perfect relationship - from my perspective. Until spots appeared. Not in front of my eyes, but on cups, plates and silverware. The first time this occurred, I learned spotty dishes are often caused by a phenomenon known as clogged dishwasher jets. The remedy for unclogging jets involves cleaning the dishwasher - which is perhaps the most counter-intuitive task I've encountered in years. Since I've never considered myself pro-clog (unless we're talking about footwear) I vowed to stay on top of my maintenance duties by flushing my jets on a regular basis.

This was a great theory - with one massive leak.

As long as the dishwasher kept up his end of the cleaning bargain, I forgot about the gunk building up in his jets - until they started spewing white spots on my cutlery and I knew I better initiate a therapeutic dishwasher intervention - again. (Cycle complete, and then repeat.)

One thing I've learned over the years is the best way to solve a problem (besides ignoring it until it goes away) involves peeling back the layers until you get to the core of the issue. In my situation, this meant dismantling the dishwasher part by part, screw by screw, jet by jet.

Over our 13-year relationship, I became intimate with the innards of my dishwasher and had a working - if not nearly personal - relationship with each of his jets. So, when white spots appeared on the dishes last week, I approached the situation with the calm of a yoga master on Xanax.

I took a deep, cleansing breath and proceeded to unscrew, degunk and de-clog with the prowess and flexibility of a woman who's done it all before. My husband even joined me in the act. I love when we bond over household chores. When complete, we put the machine back together and set him up for a test run (the dishwasher, not my husband).

Five minutes into the wash cycle, my husband took a peek inside and made an important and unfortunate discovery. Clogged jets were only the start of our spotty predicament. Even though we were mid-wash cycle, the inside of the dishwasher remained dry. We had a pump problem. Too complex - and costly - to warrant fixing on a 13-year old machine (which equates to 91 in dog years).

My on-again, off-again relationship with my dishwasher was officially off-again - for good. I now stare at the empty hole in my kitchen where the dishwasher stood sentry for over a decade. Another model will take his place upon delivery in five to seven business days, and a new relationship will begin.

Meanwhile, our old dishwasher has moved on to a better place (for now a semi-hidden spot in the corner of the backyard) where every dish is as clean and spot-free as a tabula rasa.

Best of all, I am secure in and comforted by the knowledge that he enters his new home with jets that are clear and completely gunk-free.

Follow Slices of Life on Facebook and hit Like. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" Email her at pertmn@qwest.net; or visit her web site at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.