To think about

To think about

The name of the blog

"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Love is a verb

Value is a word most commonly associated to commerce and goods, such as good value for your dollar, or accepting the price of a particular item is higher because it is deemed to be more valuable. However, I recently read an article about value in relationships that demanded I read it multiple times. Feeling slightly sick when the words punched me in the gut on the second read, by the third review I was feeling very sad. This article is still with me a week later and I feel compelled to write about it. I wasn’t upset because of poor grammar or punctuation, gender bashing, or anything else. I was upset because the writers point, about only staying where you feel valued, resonated with me and put a “face” to a nagging feeling I have had regularly that I haven’t been able to articulate well. I have many “friendships” and familial relationships where I do not feel valued a good deal of the time. In my 17 years with my previous employer I rarely felt valued for my contributions. 

In fact, when I look carefully at my life, there are very few relationships in which I do feel valued, which is sad to me. Most of the relationships in my life seem quite superficial, or are very conditional. As I become more discerning regarding who I direct my energies towards, and am choosing only to invest where I feel valued, my life has become more and more devoid of people. 

Gazillionaire, investment guru, and philanthropist Warren Buffet is credited with the following quote: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” There is an inherent give and take built into that quote. I pay a price, and I get something in return for my investment of commerce. Now the question becomes, how much do I value what I have received relative to the price I paid? 

A truth I have come to understand about love and relationships over the last few months: love is a verb, an action word, love is a currency I can use to impart value. Love is demonstrating through your behaviour, day in and day out, that you value the person in front of you, be it family, friend, lover, business partner, or spouse. Acting lovingly is your investment into another person. Love is my boyfriend calling me at the end of a long day just so that my voice can be the last thing he hears before he goes to sleep. That action, when he is calling me internationally at a steep cost to him when money is precious, indicates to me that I am valued by him. My ex-husband used to make me coffee every morning; at the time, I felt loved by that action. 

Getting back to Warren Buffet’s quote, price implies the need for currency. And the currency you use could well be different for the various significant people in your life, as it should be based on the differing types of relationships. Relationships are an investment, and your time, words, affection, or commitment are the currency you use within that relationship. The actions we interpret as imparting our value is the price the other person is willing to “pay” for our time and attention because, theoretically, they are getting something of value from us, and vice versa. 

I am circling back around to The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman here. The “currency” I most easily recognize as someone utilizing in our relationship to impart my value to them, is time. If you aren’t spending time with me, either on the phone or in person, I don’t feel valued by you. For others, it can be physical touch, loving words, or gifts. Those other things are nice to me, but if you never call or spend time with me, and only send me a card at Christmas or on my birthday, I won’t feel very connected to you, because I won’t feel valued. At the very least I won’t feel like I rank very high in your life. We all know that time is precious and each of us has to prioritize our lives. Where I rank on your priority list is evident to me based on your actions. We are all inherently valuable as human beings; we all have worth. It is just whether or not the buyer prioritizes your value in their lives.  

I imagine that while different actions or words will resonate value differently to each of us, I think there is a baseline of good behaviour that we can all agree on. Someone not returning a text, phone call or email for days, weeks, or months indicates you are not valued by that person. Someone who does not initiate spending time with you is not valuing your presence in their life. We are careful with what we value; we don’t want to lose it or break it. Think of your most prized possession; how do you treat it? Is it carefully stored, insured, and protected in some way? That is an intimate object. Surely we ought to be treating the people in our lives better than an intimate object? If you have children, think of the investment you make in them. You value your children above all, I presume, so you invest heavily with your time, attention, money, loving words, hugs and kisses, etc. 

Yet, I don’t witness a lot of investment with many people in our lives. I cannot tell you how many friendships I have lost over my lifetime because when I approach someone with a difficult conversation about something they have done that has hurt me, I am completely shut out of their life. Avoidance does not parlay value. A person who only wants you around when it is fun and easy does not value you, they just want a play thing. A person who only wants you around when it is convenient to them is using you; they do not truly value what you are bringing to the table in that particular relationship. Those behavioural choices are about them and their ego, their issues, but it is still sad to face that truth.  

I think letting someone know you value them is letting go of your ego to a degree; being vulnerable to rejection, being open to the inherent challenges of inter-personal relationships and sometimes having difficult conversations. In my life, if I value you, I will listen to the uncomfortable truth you might need to tell me and hear your concerns. I will take responsibility for my actions, make amends, and do what I need to do to let you know how important you are to me. That is how I would demonstrate your value, your worth, to me. I would pay the price I needed to pay, in whatever currency I could muster, to keep you in my life, if I value you. 

For someone like myself who has finally identified, and now struggles against, an insecure attachment pattern from childhood, I am incredibly sensitive to rejection, and I am constantly battling inside my head not to react to perceived outside negative stimuli. The multi-tiered rejection that led to my divorce certainly has not improved my overall view of how valued I feel; however, it has forced me to begin addressing my personal issues, and theoretically, knowledge is power.

Here is a quick and easy way to gather some knowledge about your significant others without reading books, or spending hours online researching and reading. Ask someone you love, “What specific things can I do for you that will let you know how much I value our marriage (friendship, relationship, partnership etc.)?” Accept their answers as is, and do your best to implement those actions. I haven’t asked that question yet of the people in my life, but I think it is time for me to do so. 

I thoroughly recommend reading the full article Five Words That Will Change Your Life here: