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Don’t Let it Happen to You

12/30/2011 10:08AM ● Published by Style

The beginning of a relationship is full of excitement, hopes and dreams.

Naturally, we view it as an investment in our future happiness and make tremendous effort to see that our asset is safe. We check on it frequently, assume it will “grow interest,” and accept that it will require steady, substantial deposits that outweigh withdrawals. We no more imagine it will go into foreclosure than we imagine we’ll default on the loan of our dream home.  

But many couples have found themselves in situations and circumstances they never imagined, whether it is losing their home or their relationship…or both. Especially during hard times, couples need to know how they can maximize their odds of surviving. It’s even more important that couples strategize and add conscious intention to their relationship equation. In many ways, it’s smart to think of a relationship just as any other investment. For value, stability and growth, keep the following guidelines in mind.

BE REALISTIC

Relationships can’t be based on empty hope. Just like home loans approved without regard to the applicant’s income, people enter relationships with a blind eye. In the excitement-filled beginning phases, it is tempting to focus more on what you desire rather than what really is. Hoping someone will change, or grow into a relationship, is just as faulty as committing to a loan based on “hoped-for” future pay raises or job promotions.  

KNOW WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT

Know yourself and what fits with your values. It doesn’t matter what your family, friends or neighbors covet. Appearances only go so far. Who cares if your friend just bought a brand new house in the “right” zip code or found a partner who has all the “right stuff” on paper? Shiny and new fades. Better to go for what will appeal to you over time and genuinely meet your needs. High maintenance and complicated investments are rarely profitable in the end.

NEVER NEGLECT YOUR INVESTMENT

All good investment advisors conduct periodic reviews of their clients’ portfolios. You are your own advisor and it’s up to you to take stock of your relationship on a regular basis. Is it growing in the direction you want, or has it started to slip? Perhaps conditions have changed and it would be wise to “redistribute” your holdings. Treat your relationship like a portfolio; shifting the emphasis of your holdings may make good sense. For example, before kids, you may have focused on date nights and special outings. After children, if you don’t stop and reassess, you can find yourself neglecting this important part of your investment.

APPLY “DOLLAR-COST AVERAGING” TO YOUR RELATIONSHIP       

This is a time-tested winning approach to growing an investment. The idea is that regular, consistent deposits yield better results than irregular or single, large deposits. Relationships benefit from the same approach.  Your partner and relationship deserve reliable attention, not just on special occasions or when you’ve sunk into a crisis.  

MAKE YOUR DEPOSITS OUTWEIGH YOUR WITHDRAWALS         

Have you gotten into the bad habit of routine withdrawals that are so automatic you don’t even realize how much you’re depleting your relationship account? The following count as withdrawals: rolling your eyes when your partner is talking, sarcasm, neglecting basic niceties like “thank you” and “please,” and interrupting and putting down the other in a conversation. Aim for a deposits-to-withdrawals ratio of three to one! Try these valuable but easy deposits: a special hug, a tucked-away note, a simple but heartfelt thank you, offering a favor without being asked, and complimenting your partner...especially in public.

Nurture the investment you’ve made in your relationship.  Especially now, during what are stressful times for many couples – your actions will count and help ensure the growth and stability for the future.


Dr. Debra Moore is a psychologist and director of Fall Creek Counseling Associates. She can be reached at 916-344-0900 or sacramentopsychology.com.

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