This past decade of high financial uncertainty and distress can affect relationships in ways that seem worthy of mention. When life as we know it is altered, as it has been for so many, it brings up a certain type of distress that can trigger deep, early, young places in us that can elicit a sort of panic and wish to figure out what went wrong and to place blame. Whatever has been circulating around, under the surface, over the years, now takes on new life, new energy, new paranoia, new fear, and finds its way into our most intimate relationships. How did we get here? Why did we make that decision? Why did we spend money this way? Why did we buy that house? Why did we invest in this stock? Things are now viewed and judged in retrospect from our current financial reality.
In a state of extreme anxiety, the ‘we’ can change to ‘you.’ Why do you spend the way you do? How could you lose your job? Why aren’t you busy every moment trying to get something going?
When we turn on each other, we remove an oar from the water. Our boat slows down, and we start going in circles. Sometimes, there is even a man overboard.
In the midst of unrest, how do we find our way? As a couple, how do we move forward? When we turn on each other, we add another distress to the mix. If you are angry with me for my comments, if your defenses are high and I become an unsafe person to be with – our problems escalate and compound. We still have the same overall problems, but now we are a problem as well. We are no longer available to one another for comfort, support, and reassurance.
My challenge in working with others and functioning within my own relationship is to be curious about what is getting stirred. If we can identify some of the old losses that are being re-circulated, re-ignited, we can begin to be responsible for our own internal fears and anxieties and remove the projections from our partner. You didn’t get us into this, we are in this together. We have the chance to re-work old narratives where someone left us, someone dropped us, someone gave up on us, someone turned on us.
We can take this opportunity to deepen and strengthen our relationship by pulling together – pooling our strengths and gifts and brainstorming in an effort to make wise choices. Two oars in the water – synchronized and rowing together, form a powerful and effective ‘crew’ team.
This is a season of opportunity - a season to build character - a season to trim some fat - a season to transform panic into productivity - a season to re-work our tendency toward arrogance or entitlement - a season to exercise faith. This is good for us, if we allow it to be and not let it come between us, and if we can keep both oars in the water.