Hello Candor Family.
February is finally here and in just a couple of weeks loved ones will be demonstrating their devotion to one another with roses, cards, jewelry, balloons, and lots of chocolate. This day was originally a celebration of the Roman Saint (San Valentino) who was martyred for ministering to persecuted Christians and buried somewhere along the Roman Road on February 14th of circa 269 A.D. Fun fact, he is also the patron saint of epileptics and beekeepers.
This season brings back memories for me, since February 1998 was the month I mustered up the courage to ask Margie for a date. (Don’t ask her about it because I don’t think she will recall it with such fondness.) I thought taking her to see Blues Brothers 2000 would be a good first date. She still reminds me about this. We were in college at Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas, and were married later that year, so I guess the date wasn’t all that bad.
We’ve been blessed to have 24 years together, and still counting. We’re still working on it though. Isn’t it special when people stay together 50, 60, and 70+ years? Those that do will tell us: it takes time and energy. And patience. And time and then even more patience. And work, sacrifice, and more patience.
In Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he describes the different ways we experience and feel love from our partner (words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch). Dr. Chapman goes on to describe how we seem to have a “tank” which can be filled or depleted. If neglected, we might feel empty, and crave that which only our partner can provide. We are then refilled when our loved one speaks our language. We don’t come with fuel gauges. In order to keep our tanks full, he recommends a “tank check” where one asks their valentine how full or empty their tank is. A simple “how are you doing today?” usually works.
Thinking about this, I realize that we spend from our own tank when we invest to refill our partner’s. We spend time, energy of thought and action, and even money. So, why do we do this? Return on investment! Every relationship is a two-way street. If one person gets nothing from it, they will eventually leave, and the relationship will end. This balance of investment and return is echoed in our financial lives. Who would invest in anything that didn’t at least offer the hope of some future return?
We invest to meet goals that are directly related to our love for others. Take retirement, for example. We want to retire and spend more time with our spouse and grandchildren. We want to travel and have tank-filling experiences with them. Or maybe we invest to provide for someone else so they don’t have to struggle or have financial stress while pursuing a degree. These are also expressions of love, and they, too, take time.
I like to think of investment markets as living manifestations of the love-energy that all investors put into their families’ “future tanks.” For example, the stock market, which we measure with “indexes” like the Russell 3000 or the S&P 500, will expand or contract depending on whether we investors are adding or subtracting money from them. In the investment world we call this “fund flows,” and it can tell us how much in love with the markets we investors are as a group. When funds flow away from stocks and into safer investments like cash, money markets, and AAA bonds, it doesn’t make for a happy valentine, as far as stocks go.
Investors can be finicky. We buy (add money to tank) when things feel good but sell (subtract from tank) when we get nervous. This is the opposite of what we should do! Can you imagine how that logic would play out if applied to a relationship? It wouldn’t last a week. Why? Because when things are scary, we need to feel comforted, reassured, and stable. Subtracting from our love tanks would be fatal to the longevity of the relationship.
Love has its own set of time-tested truths. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor 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.”
While these verses aren’t a commentary on investments, they are a good indicator of what makes us tick when it comes to loving others and feeling loved. Long term relationships are worth investing in. And relationships are always better when we choose to put someone else’s needs before our own—an act of selflessness that always requires us to subtract from our tank and add to the tank of someone we love, regardless of the return.
Whether you do this with love letters or candy hearts, or whether you show love with time and affection or acts of service, I hope that you all can give and receive love this Valentine’s day. And may your tanks be full.
Always with Candor,
*The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
*The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.