Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The Ledger of a Relationship

10 January 2016


We all keep score in a relationship although the reasons may appear to be very different. The pluses and minuses are carefully written down in our memories. Minuses are amplified and compared with past experiences. Although financial warnings claim that “past performance is not indicative of future results”, our emotional alert system does think so. To many people, the past negative experiences do seem indicative for the success in their future relationships.

When the balance in this emotional ledger is a solid positive then we continue without hesitation. The opposite is usually also true. When the relationship isn’t making a clear profit or loss then we are in the danger zone. Similar to many self-owned businesses, we increase our efforts to make things work. When one of the two persons does not consider herself/himself a co-owner of the relationship then quitting the “job” makes sense.

Similar to the single entry system of accounting in cash ledgers, there is no balancing entry and hence the other person in the relationship probably did not make an entry in her/his ledger. In practice, our mutual ledgers seldom reconcile. This is not a problem until we start comparing entries. There comes such a time in each and every relationship. A non-reconciliation may invoke anger, incomprehension, pain and suffering, and perhaps worse: the feeling of missing (mutual) empathy.

The reconciliation process is essential at this stage as else things are likely to go downhill from here. In my view, intimacy is the best way to reconcile but also a very difficult one. Difficult because one party needs to be the wisest and to make the first move. Making a first move can easily backfire if the other party fails to understand its underlying reasons.

Similar to doing business, a non-reconciliation introduces mistrust between parties about each other’s (future) intentions, and may even lead to a first glance at the exit clauses of the contract (eg, prenuptial agreement).

In my view, involving others at this stage (eg, mediation by friends or third parties) is very likely to achieve the opposite result. Unfortunately, their misguided sense of empathy will cause them to take sides or to even widen the gap rather than offering a safe bridge. Involving a third party that bills by the hour is unlikely to yield fast progress. And time is running out.

A periodic closing (and closure) of the ledger (ie, memories) may provide solutions to some. This procedure would involve preparing a mutual “statement” of pluses and minuses from both ledgers. Both parties then need to work on the balance that is brought forward to the new period. A write-off of the balance would make much more sense but is perhaps too much to ask for.

Still, a real-time closing / closure procedure would work far better. It requires both parties to express their pluses and minuses whenever they occur. Express, Explain, Understand, Forgive and Forget.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13)

Peaches & Herb – Reunited (1978)
artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited ’cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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