For 20 years the mantra for our company has attempted to perpetuate the importance of Health, Wealth, Relationships and Habits. Habits being the disciplines maintained within the three critical elements of money, wellness and love. I wonder however if we have sufficiently emphasised the importance of the third element. It is so much easier and seemingly less personal to measure and mention – money and wellness, yet so much of life is dependent on relationships – if not love.
Self-esteem, whether positive or negative, stems from our need to be loved, wanted or at least acknowledged, or to the degree to which this has occurred in our lives. Unless we master this personally we will likely not find happiness. In most circumstances, from my experience, it’s ‘the partnership’ that matters. Get it right and things sing (including health and money) get it wrong and you can watch the destruction – of assets, health, respect, self-esteem. For singles ‘the partner’ could either be a passion or employment – I’m not convinced these people truly achieve self-actualisation or happiness – we are not naturally hermits who escape from society to remain anonymous. These people can be strong communicators, albeit from behind barricades of anonymity – a computer screen, op eds, poetry, prose, music or expressing themselves through art and design. Craving attention but pushing aside those who might overly impose or influence their personality upon the narcissist. Sometimes the individual is not seeking attention, not looking to put their head above the parapet – they enjoy their own company, don’t necessarily dislike other’s company but it is not a chosen past-time. They might even be lonely but unable to alter their circumstance due to a lack of self-confidence, but humble and often self-depreciating.
By far the most common relationship issue we planners experience when attempting to create a financial plan for clients is what you might call ‘transactional’. The situation where one of the pair is either aloof or pre-occupied. Minimal, if any, mutual goals or aspirations and communication has become tense. One partner asks a question and the other provides a one-word answer. One partner is effusive and emotional – the other is unemotional and disinterested. For many couples this is the norm. The scenario has not necessarily occurred overnight. As young couples strive to make their way, whether with children or without, work can become a passion killer – the tiredness or simply different hours being worked – or time away from home. The loneliness of ships passing in the night.
Loneliness in relationships is a common phenomenon for many reasons and having different time clocks is only one of them. Others include being pre-occupied with kids, different interests and not doing things together enough, or doing them together while one party looks or feels decidedly bored.
Studies indicate that about 20% of people suffer from chronic loneliness and in one recent study, quoted in ‘Psychology today’ 62.5% of those who reported being lonely were living with a partner. The truth is, marriage or partnership doesn’t insulate us from the sadness of loneliness, in fact, it can cause it. Experts say it usually happens slowly as the disconnection we feel increases through the years.
“At some point, discussions about mutual interests, world events and goals and dreams cease entirely and conversations become purely transactional” – (Psychology Today).
“Would you like your favourite lamb chops and mint sauce for dinner tonight”? – “Whatever”
“I’m off to the supermarket, anything special you would like me to get you”? – “No”
“There’s a couple of good movies on after the rugby, one’s a thriller, the other more romantic, which would you prefer”? – “You choose”
In short, we lose the love and affection but stay in the marriage, ironically, often out of a fear of being lonely, although by doing so, we potentially doom ourselves to the very loneliness we were trying to avoid.
There are obviously many reasons and just as many solutions for loneliness or transactional relationships, but what I know from having worked in a planning capacity for many people over many years, counselling helps.
Sometimes that counselling requires specialist psychological or relationship help – that is not the role of a trusted financial adviser or financial planner. Often however, a financial planner can create goals and aspirations with couples by opening communication and listening – then outlining how better outcomes may evolve from being on the same page. Couples working synergistically are enormously more successful and happy than those who have yet to find common ground. The right financial adviser just might be the catalyst required to spark that excitement and reignite what was once a mutually enjoyable and genuinely authentic relationship.
<< Back to Blog