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  • Writer's pictureAbby Loyola

That 401k kind of love....

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

What is love? That's an age-old question that seems to change over time. I often work with people who are dating, and they ask, shouldn't love be fun? Exciting? Romantic? Even intoxicating at times?? Sure! Love can be all those things, but perhaps not all the time. As we settle into love, settle in to our partner and into our relationship what it seems like we are looking for is a love similar to a healthy and robust...401(k) Plan. Ummmmm...what? Did she just say a relationship should be like a retirement plan?? Yes, yes I did.

As we move through the various stages in life, we are reminded of our ever evolving responsibilities and are frequently asked to evaluate our plans for the future. Part of this planning process often includes starting to plan for our own retirement. Even in our 20’s we are asked to start planning for these “golden years” and we set about to arrange our finances to include steady deposits to these accounts that will, someday, rewards us.

My question to you is, why don’t we view our intimate relationships in the same way? How can we expect to reap the benefits of a lasting relationship with our partner without making consistent deposits into this “account”? I think it’s time we start to view our relationships with our partners in much the same way we view our retirement plans. Not always exciting, but exceptionally rewarding if handled well.

So, what's a 401(k) Plan?? According to a 401(k) Plan is a qualified employer-sponsored retirement plan that eligible employees make tax-deferred contributions from their salary or wages to on a post-tax and/or pretax basis.

See where I'm going with this?

Although it was cute as a child to watch Ariel fall in love, leave her family and friends, change her body, and completely turn her life upside down for a man she has never spoken to, as an adult I can see how that just isn't quite right! And as a therapist adult I can see that she could possibly benefit from some additional therapeutic support to work through some of this. You see, Ariel never made regular contributions to that plan/her future. She didn't stick with that plan when the economy tanked and things got tough, nor did she experience the joy of watching that plan grow and flourish over time.

Is your relationship bumping along without any real direction? Maybe there are no real highs or lows, but you’re wondering if things could be better? Looks like you might be taking a passive approach to savings and may find yourself without enough to live on when it comes time to retire. You may want to reevaluate your goals and make adjustments to the types of “love deposits” that you’re making (diversify your portfolio!) Is your relationship feeling a bit stale? Have you hit a rough spot or even had to take an “early withdrawal from your savings” because of a crisis or even a separation? Time to rebuild. Time to start making deposits into this account again.

When I work with couples this is my hope; for couples to learn how to make those regular contributions towards one another and their future. Every single day a moment of time should be automatically withdrawn and given to the relationship. That time is used on bids for connection, turning towards your partner and being engaged/present. My hope is relationships, like a good retirement plan, are stable, nurtured, paid attention to, and in the end can lead to a healthy and robust retirement, aka...their happily ever after.

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