Relationships, What Comes First?

Since 1983, I have been in a relationship with my wife.  As my daughters mature and get into and out of relationships I observe the similarities and differences with my own.  This week I ran across a blogpost with this question,

You say your husband is your best friend. What is the key to a successful relationship and what advice do you give your daughters?

Since I have two daughters I commented and thought about it some more.  Relationships are the same today as they were back in the beginning of time.  However, because of technology, they are much more complicated.  For example, my wife moved away to Dallas when we were dating.  I was back in Chicago, toiling away in the trading pits of the

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11:  Traders work on th...
CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 11: Traders work on the trading floor at the CME Group on February 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The the CME Group was formed following the merger of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. Following the announcement of a potential merger between NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse, analysts are speculating if the CME Group, Nasdaq, or the CBOE would search for merger partners to increase their international exposure. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

CME.  The only way for me to communicate with her was by phone, very expensive at the time, or by snail mail.  It was tough to keep the connection going but, at the end of the day we got engaged and married.

What if we would have had Facebook?  And Texts?  And Twitter?  The good thing is my wife and I would have had instant communication whenever we wanted it.  The bad thing is we might have found out too much about each other before we got married!  We didn’t live together before marriage, even though a lot of people did.  Once you make the commitment to marry, you ought to make every effort to work things out when problems arise.  I guarantee they will arise.

I think relationships follow a similar pattern.  First there is lust.  There is a sexual attractiveness, sort of animalistic, that starts out a successful relationship.  Then, there is the finding out.  Can you have a conversation?  Do you have fun together?  Is it forced fun, or are you really enjoying it and enjoying doing it with the other person?  Then deeper feelings emerge.  Eventually it becomes the point where my old boss Harry Toussaint said, “It’s tie or bye time.”! You get engaged.

Once engaged, the planning starts.  It can be totally frustrating.  But, you might learn even more about your significant other in that process.  Real economic choices are made.  At this point, if you become uncomfortable, it might be time to call the whole thing off.

My wife and I have had our ups and downs over the years.  No relationship, personal or business, ever has totally smooth sailing.  Different things stress us out at different times.  Kids, pets, external family issues.  But so far after twenty five years we have held it together.

I have had friends contemplating marriage asking why I have been able to stay married all these years.  My answer is to marry someone that is your best friend.  Best friend means something different to every person, so you will have to define that on your own.  What does being a best friend mean to you?  One of the first lectures I heard at the University of Chicago was that there indeed is a “marriage market”.  Everyone has their own preferences and that creates a supply curve, and demand curve for marriage!  When you figure out what your preferences are, and what “best friend” means for you, you can have a long term relationship.  You have to be open to a relationship.  I encourage it.  It’s fun.



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