Are You Investing?

I was sitting with a client recently who wished her significant other would be interested in investing in their relationship the way he is with his money.

“He always is reading and thinking about the best ways to get the best on return on his investment,” she said. “And he’s quite good at it.”

She is right. It is important for all of us to invest in our relationships otherwise we won’t get much in the way of return.

You start with a strong foundation, trusted philosophy and well-balanced spending and saving habits to build an outstanding investment portfolio. And, you have to start with a strong foundation, trusted theories and healthy habits to build a strong relationship.

One of the best pieces of advice about investing I have ever gotten: Start with knowing yourself - your emotions, your fears, your dreams and your risk tolerance. Only then can you make investments congruent with who you are and the life you want. Sharing yourself with your partner in these ways brings intimacy and trust to the relationship. Learn what each other’s strengths are and build on those.

Any smart investor knows to take a long-term view. Patience is a virtue in investing and in relationships. When investing, you need the discipline to hold onto or add to investments through down markets as well as up markets. Your relationship requires the same discipline to work through the rough spots and maintain closeness through the up times and the down times.

We’ve all heard the diversify advice. Reliable outcomes can be good, but boring. In a relationship things can get stale. To keep it healthy and happy, try new adventures together; shake things up with something different sometimes. Build in surprises. Be creative. Be interesting to the other person.

Smart investors review their portfolio at least once a year. Your relationship deserves the same evaluation. When circumstances change or there has been a crisis of some sort, regrouping sooner rather than later is always wise. I help couples create vision statements for their life together and always I tell them this is a dynamic document. As you age, life circumstances change, goals shift, etc., revisit and perhaps rewrite your vision of your ideal relationship and where you want it grow.

In investing avoid fad stocks because you are either too late or it is over priced. In relationships avoid comparing yours to everyone else’s. What works for them, may not work for you and your partner. Being in your relationship and not comparing it to your friends’ or siblings’ take courage and compassion.

And, just like any smart investor, keep track of your balance sheet. According to research published by marriage and family therapist John Gottman, for every one negative interaction (debt) in a relationship, you need five positive interactions (asset) to make up for - if you will - the negatives.

Invest in your relationships - both intimate and friendships - with interest, love, kindness and empathy and reap the rewards.