Monday, July 12, 2010

Relationship reservoirs and the stock market

I was talking to someone the other day about relationship stresses. I have done a lot of talking about that subject over the years! If I have learned anything, it is that relationships have a very good history of recovering from hurts, conflicts, blows to the head. The reason is, as one author has said, every relationship has a reservoir of good will. It may be hard to find it on a given day, and you may not believe it is there in a given month, but it usually is.

As a result, one piece of advice I give couples is to resist the temptation to see the relationship itself being on the table every time there is a dispute. The dispute is usually just the dispute, not the relationship! The dispute needs problem-solving, catching the breath, taking a step back for a moment, and so on. It does not need separation, permanent cutting off of communication, or any of a variety of drastic measures. Not normally, not in first instance for sure.

So when I was talking to this person, the image of the stock market came to mind. If you behaved in the stock market the way you are tempted to do in relationship ups and downs, you would go broke!

I took a look at today’s opening on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Wouldn't you know – straight down!

If this were a relationship, we would be charting an argument, a criticism, a rumor, a hurt. We might be so alarmed by the sudden swift change, that we pull the plug on the relationship. We are scared and hurt.

Next I looked at the past decade on the same Exchange. Big hit in 2009 (we all remember the financial meltdown, right?). But If you got out at the bottom, you miss the opportunities for the recovery that has already been taking place.

Finally, I took a look at the really long term, the past century. This time, the Dow Jones Exchange in New York. There is the blip that was the Crash of 1929. Are you ready? The market recovered from even that, and has been on a steady climb ever since. In my experience I would liken that Crash to infidelity in a marriage. Very very serious. Could wipe you out for sure. But I have seen marriages come back from that kind of calamity stronger than when they went in. Why? Because the reservoir of good will still existed; and because the sloppiness was taken out of the system: people quit taking things for granted in the relationship. They started talking, spending time with each other again, and so on.

No image is perfect, this one included. Sometimes the hit is too big, and for any of a number of reasons, you are too tired or too devastated to stay in the game.
But remember the reservoir. It may save your relationship – with a friend, relative, child, parent, or spouse.