Relationship psychologist John Gottman states that a relationship which includes defensiveness, contempt, criticism, and stonewalling has a 10% chance of making it. This means that when I spent money on couples counselling and workshops with a person who demonstrated all four of these traits, I invested approximately $4000 in something that had only a 10% chance of seeing any return at all. I don’t regret the effort -I’m happy to know I did what I could, that I gave it my all- but would I have spent this sum differently had I known the chances of success?
Investing requires that we have a reasonable expectation of return. As Dr Henry Cloud says, we must apply due diligence—in relationships even moreso than in business or real estate! Absolutely spend $4000 to save a committed relationship that has an excellent chance of thriving, but do not spend any significant sum on one that doesn’t.
In this situation, I had a few options:
1. End the relationship. 20/20 hindsight says this would best have been done before the relationship started, very shortly after, or at a critical point approximately one year in.
2. Invite my partner to first invest whatever he needed to invest in order to resolve his issues of contempt, defensiveness, criticism, and stonewalling. This would have put us in a much higher chance of a thriving relationship, one worth my also subsequently investing money in.
3. Remain in the relationship if I wished, but invest the $4000 in low-fee index funds. At least then I would have increased wealth regardless of what was to come for us…with precisely the same chance of saving the relationship!
For more information on making wise choices, I recommend Dr Henry Cloud’s book Never Go Back.
Blog post image used courtesy of: http://www.funlava.com/love-pictures/