I have borrowed the term “relationship capital” from the business marketing, accounting and economics fields. Capital in these settings would normally describe wealth in the form of money or assets that indicate the financial strength of an individual or organisation. Relationship capital however, is the cumulative trust, experience and knowledge that form the core of the relationship between a business and their customers. Organisations place a huge emphasis and invest heavily in gaining and retaining relationship capital to make it harder for a customer to abandon their commercial relationship.
My interest in relationship capital is not so much on how to gain and retain customers but in how to gain and retain relationship capital in your marriage. When life is good it is generally because relationships are good. And therefore, if relationship success is crucial to the enjoyment of a good life, how can you ensure your capital remains in a strong position.
Marriage seems to be a personal relationship in which it is particularly difficult to maintain a strong relational capital position. Like commercial relationship good personal relationships don’t occur by accident. Marriages that remain in a strong relationship capital position occur through consistent and persistent and even targeted activities that produce trust, loyalty, safety, and commitment etc, as a by-product. Statistics indicate that the marriage relationship capital is a difficult commodity to retain. So if you wanted a better quality marriage how would you go about securing stakeholder loyalties, particularly when there are so many distracting products in the market place. The world’s larger consumer product businesses don’t succeed by assuming or demanding your repeat business loyalty because you purchased a product from them last time? They succeed by offering a range of appealing products and work hard to influence your loyalty so you will buy from them again and again.
I’m not suggesting that people shop for relationships like their next computer but is the current relational product of your marriage daily appealing to your stakeholder. I encourage you to monitor the relationship capital of your marriage to ensure your relationship has substance and offers appealing experiences for each of you. Take care if your relational capital is low due to lack of focus and wise investment and be careful to not assume loyalty or demand customer loyalty based on previous partner/customer behaviour.
QUESTION: If you rated the quality of your relationship capital with your (wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, father, etc) right now out of 10, what would you score? Are you happy with that score?
If you are happy with the score, great, but if you’re not, what can you do today to start bridging the distance between where you are and what might be a healthy relationship capital position. What can you do to start favouring/strengthening your relationship in decision making. For example how would you make a decision about a work over time request that conflicts with an important date on your relationship calendar? Will you do as you normally do and let money make the decision, or will you choose to favour your relationship and make a deposit in your relationship capital? When planning your day or weekend will you choose to do your own independent thing or will you choose to accompany your partner to places or events that may not immediately interest you because you know they will appreciate it. There is much more that could be said on this topic but I trust this will cause you to reflect on how often you choose to do things rather than be with key people. All the best creating relational strength and sustainability through relationship capital investment.