By Shewanda Riley
For the last few months, you cannot turn the TV on without hearing words like recession to describe our country’s current economic situation. Not a day has gone by without an expert offering tips on how to survive and thrive in what some are calling a recession. Some of the characteristics of a recession include rising unemployment and reduced investment. It’s not just one thing going wrong with the economy; its multiple things all going wrong at the same time. Yet, some question how we can be in a recession with recent positive job creation numbers.
I watched some of those financial tips on tv and thought about how the philosophy behind those tips also apply to relationships and a conversation I had with a few friends. After a few minutes of listening to comments about recent relationship issues, one thing that came to mind was that some of us may have been in a relationship recession. What’s a relationship recession? For an extended period of time, you are in a period of reduced satisfaction, superficial intimacy and decreased emotional investment. Or you may be in a total slump with no dates worth remembering or may not be in a relationship at all. You may be with someone but not the one you really want…or you may be with the one you wanted once but it’s not what you want anymore. Motivated by a fear of being alone, you stay in the relationship.
Like all downturns, depending on how you handle your relationship recession, you can either rebound with greater success or experience a more severe depression. The determining factor is whether you recognize it as a time for reevaluation.
Much like the economic recession, a relationship recession forces you to readjust your priorities and expectations. A financial recession is a great chance to reevaluate your financial goals and change your risky behavior. Likewise, during a relationship recession consider becoming diversified and thinking outside your regular “relationship” box. Just like having a diverse source of incomes and investments can help you survive an economic recession, so can having a diverse group of friends help you survive your relationship recession. Speaking from experience, it’s not always easy but developing and maintaining relationships with others outside your usual comfort zone can be especially rewarding. Rather than being turned off by the differences you may have, you have great opportunities to grow.
A former pastor noted once in a sermon that your current situation is not your final destination. When you realize you are in a relationship recession, don’t pursue or commit to any relationships out of desperation. Rely on your patience to get you through the most difficult times. Ecclesiastes 7:8 encourages us that “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”
Use wisdom to be proactive and not reactive in your relationship choices. Valentine’s Day may seem like an odd time to discuss relationship problems but it’s actually the perfect time to start making changes so you can start getting what you want in your relationships.
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.