For nearly twenty years I have been teaching at CEO Space, an entrepreneurial training and business growth conference. Being steeped in the concept of Return on Investment as it relates to money, I can’t help but transfer that concept to the realm of relationships. Most of us start with “What is in it for me?” questioning what we are getting back in our partnerships, but I invite you to consider, “What are you returning others on their investment (of time, love, energy, money, prayers) in you?”
Clearly, the people you are in love relationships with are not likely to be looking for a financial return on spending time with you (although, I hear that is the oldest profession!). Rather, they want a less costly, although sometimes harder to manage, payback. The majority of the people in our lives are seeking some combination of: love, trust, attention, intimacy, respect, kindness, time, communication, gratitude, assistance, friendship, companionship and respect. Sometimes all they want is for us to be happy, Sometimes all they want is someone who is happy to see them at the end of the day. Perhaps they want all of the above.
I was recently visiting with a friend who was complaining to me about his relationship with his wife. He went on to say that they bicker and argue all day—and that she has no interest in sex (which he attributes to menopause, but I might attribute to the bickering). His comments caused me to wonder, what is the reason to stay in a relationship with a partner if they aren’t having sex with you and aren’t nice to you? What is the return on that investment?
While I can see many reasons to stay with someone if they aren’t having sex with you, I could find few reasons compelling enough to stay with someone if they aren’t nice to you. Kindness and respect are a crucial relationship qualities and intimacy is a critical loyalty quality. Without intimacy, you may be great friends and roommates, but most people are not simply looking for a long-term committed roommate to walk the aisle—or through life—with.
Einstein said, “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving... “ Many of us are wired to give…but we don’t always do so with kindness and graciousness. Resentment lurking in the background can cause huge relationship problems.
So, while you are considering whether a partner is good to you and whether a relationship is good for you, I invite you to take another look at the various relationships you are in and consider what the other person receives from being in relationship with you. Explore the questions:
What is it like to live with you?
What is it like to work with you?
What is it like to live next door to you?
What is it like to be your child?
What is it like to ask you for help?
What is it like to loan you money or borrow money from you?
What is it like to go out to dinner with you or make dinner with you?:
What is it like to make love with you or to suggest making love with you?
What is it like to wake up with you?
What is it like to make mistakes around you?
If you aren’t comfortable with the answers to these questions, I invite you to “train your brain to start with heart” and see if you can bring loving kindness back to the forefront as your return on the relationship investment.