No one really wants to be left alone, rejected or abandoned. And yet there is a certain inevitability of this happening to us. First of all, the reality is that all partnerships end. Whether through the dissolution of a relationship or death, our relationships are terminal. This reality is another of those “I just don’t want to think about it” truths. It is difficult enough to risk dependence and emotional exposure with someone -- but to grapple with a relationship ending as it begins, is terrifying. And yet. What would happen if we accepted this and negotiated our way through our endings at our beginnings? What if we acknowledged this vulnerability instead of fearing and avoiding it?
As a financial advisor, the relational dynamics I am most interested in are in the domain of money. The time to lay our financial cards on the table is, counter-intuitively, AT the start of our relationships --when everyone is all moony-eyed, hormonally intoxicated and keen to please. When we are ensconced in a habitual pattern or in the midst of conflict we have the least chance of getting our needs met. The reality is that these conversations will happen. Days, months, even years go by and the conversations we should have about the relationship and about our future and financial lives together don’t get addressed. Then bang! She dies. Or he leaves. It ends. We are furious!! Terrified. What did I do to deserve this? Why me? Why now? And how dare they move out/ dump me/ die, when I have sacrificed the very essence of my being for relationship? So we are left to feel abandoned and angry and in a very poor position to advocate for our rights and needs, right when we need them recognized the most.
So, let’s try a new way of thinking about and negotiating our partnerships. What would happen if we accepted that endings are a natural and inevitable part of life? My belief is that by having conversations and setting up our financially intertwined lives with the end in mind, we can potentially usher in a new kind of loving. One based on reality and mutual trust.
My experience in working with thousands of people in relational transitions is that “going with the flow” is not going to get you a life that optimizes your fullest potential or even increases your capacity for happiness. My hope is that romance can be aligned with honest communication. This to me, is the way to have our happy-ever-afters.