Friday, May 22, 2009

The Business of Relationships

Okay this has been a long time coming. I think I started this one a while ago and decided it wasn’t ready to be put out yet. I’ve had a great many conversation with some of you about this and have been threatening to put something formal together but alas, have never found the time. This new year is bringing me a few sane (well, I’ll let you be the judge) moments in order to jot this down.

The topic - relationships: long-term, committed relationships, engagements, marriage, etc. whatever your definition of “that” may be. I’ll use the word marriage in the rest of the blog in order to avoid confusion regarding “commitment”, “loyalty” and “faithfulness” as I know some don’t entertain those words unless it involves the word marriage as well. So here we go. Marriage is a business. As with any business, there are components and parts to it. Both simple and complicated. More specifically, marriage is a merger. If you know anything about business you know that when two companies merge, there’s a lot of “hashing” out that takes place prior to the final papers being signed. By that I mean that you have two entirely separate companies with a different set of assets, work environment, location, deficiencies and goods. These two companies see fit to become one due to an overwhelming amount of the stated resources listed above being compatible and after an analysis of both companies, the merger is decided upon when it is determined that this will improve both companies in the long run. There is no emotion into this. There is no “feelings” other than the management’s gut determining the viability of the merger. Obviously the research on both companies doesn’t get done unless someone says “hey, I have a good feeling about ABC company. We should look and see if we can merge”. That kicks things off and from then on, its numbers, analysis and determinations.

Too often, relationships forget that. I’m not saying you don’t need love. But, not being able to “hash” out the business end of a relationship will ensure that even where there are vast amounts of love, the merger will not work. Love is necessary, it is the “gut” feeling I speak of above regarding the initial move to begin the merger. I don’t need to tell you that many a time, as the song says, sometimes love just ain’t enough. So we pick up there. This discussion is solely the thoughts and feelings of the author so, I apologize if it doesn’t meet with statistics or specifics to your case. Feel free to comment and give me your thoughts.

Now there are a ton of things in a relationship that you can compromise on. This compromising process is ongoing throughout the life of your relationship. You must remain open to that idea right from day one. Marriage is also very hard work! Consider the two companies again, do you think that they just go about their business after signing the paperwork? No! They work at the merger, they tend to it, hold more meetings than normal and only when a certain plateau is reached does the new company settle in. There is still work that gets done, hard work. Long days depending on the season and more good days than bad if it was a good merger. But there are also things that must be hashed out prior to any commitments being made. I believe in the 5 F’s for marriage:

1. Faith
2. Family
3. Finance
4. Friendship
5. I’ll leave the last one up to your imagination

By the way, these aren’t listed in any particular order. I’ll take these one by one:

Faith. I’m going to use myself in these examples because, well, I know me best. I believe that the family that prays together stays together. I have a strong sense of faith due to my own experiences and God’s grace in my life. Therefore, in order to have a successful “merger” you must be on the same plane as your partner on this topic. I, for example, cannot be involved with an atheist. I know that, that’s not something I can compromise on no matter how nice the other person is.

Family. To me, it’s one of the most important things in my life. I am close to mine. Love it, can’t do without it. I therefore, cannot possibly be with someone that doesn’t think of family in this same way. This also includes the family that we will build. I, for example, could never be with someone that doesn’t want children. I can’t compromise on that.

Finance. Some ridiculous statistic names finances as the number one reason for divorce. So needless to say, all cards must be put down on the table in order to make things work. If you marry someone not knowing their financial situation you might find yourself highly frustrated as you try to build something later on. That’s not to say that your situation will discount you now. This simply means that knowing up front will allow the two of you to put together a sound game plan for the future.

Friendship. This encompasses a couple of issues. The friendship between the two of you. Your partner must be your best friend. The person you call when you stub your toe and even the person you call when he/she upsets you. If they don’t know, they’ll never be able to fix it, right? Also, this includes the friendships you have outside of the relationships. The friends of opposite sex, the ex’s, etc. A clear understanding of expectation and needs must be discussed otherwise, there will be a lot of painful moments as each learns the other’s nuances, restrictions and expectations. This is VERY important because the people around you could possibly hinder your relationship without even knowing it. At the same time those same people could boost your relationship. It all depends on how this is handled.

The last F. There needs to be an understanding, thorough and concise regarding this topic. Compatibility is essential and if it is not there, with time, it will corrode away the core of a relationship. Good sex will make you apologize for something you didn’t do (he he). It will be there even when you are mad (and maybe ease some of the tension between the two). If you don’t like it and your partner does, it will be a problem no matter how much you love each other. It’s the little (and sometimes the not so little) things that tend to come to mind when you are upset, angry or not liking each other. Something as simple as this could ease a world of tension if you’re on the same page.

Last and certainly not least: you will not always like that person. You will hate them sometimes. They will get on your nerves. You’re going to look over and think: what the hell was I thinking?! How can I be with someone that I detest so much right now? The key is this: if you’re in it for the long haul, really in it, if you understand that you will be together for the rest of your lives (whether you like it or not – smile) there will be no problem that you won’t be able to conquer. You must of course respect, honor and cherish one another (and the rest of that vow we’ve all heard at weddings). Mergers don’t go into it thinking that they might “unmerge” later. Want to know why? They’ve gone through all of the required documentation and compromised on what they felt was “compromise-able”, discussed all points calmly and without prejudice. If you take the love out of a relationship (for the purposes of conducting the “business” only, it needs to be put back in after all is talked through in order for true happiness), sit down and do the same you will find that what you build will be strong enough to last a lifetime. Then and only then will love be enough.

 2008

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