I’ve been researching Life in the Great Depression, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships between time, money, and love.

There are Great Depression horror stories of kids pulled out of school and sent to work, or forage for coal, or hunt rabbits for food. But there are also stories of families hunting and foraging together, of children who were so loved that they had no idea that they were living in Hard Times. The families that pulled together and supported each other adapted, survived and thrived while others didn’t recover for generations.

Time is Money

The expression “Time is Money” is certainly applicable when it comes to grocery shopping. Like kitchen towel for example; in terms of cost per sheet it is cheaper to buy a pack of small rolls than a pack of big rolls, even though they contain the same number of sheets. I’ve observed the same for tissues, toilet paper, and canned goods. You pay a premium for a product that takes less of your time. Economies of scale don’t seem domestically relevant anymore.

As I stroll around the supermarket, I often overhear heated conversations between couples as they shop and sometimes it seems as though they are arguing about nothing. Except that if you are paying luxury prices for goods you don’t need to change as often, could the root of these arguments be love? Could these couples be saying “You don’t make time for me, and I feel unloved”?

Relationships

A relationship is a connection between two or more things. A change in one brings about a change in the other; they are not static – they are either developing or declining. According to Relationships Australia, a good relationship is built on respect and clear communication.

Respect

Respect can be a difficult concept. I grew up in an era where you respected your elders, just because they were old, not because they had done anything that merited respect. Like a relationship, respect is a connection between two or more things. It’s the kind of deep admiration you have for people who do great things. Or It can considering their feelings and opinions. Most importantly. it means treating them with courtesy; a measure of civility and politeness.

Respect takes time. Developing admiration requires the time to get to know people enough to find out about them on a deeper level. Considering what other people like, and how they feel takes your attention away from want you want and like. Treating people with courtesy requires that you slow down enough to pause and say please and thank you.

You should always respect your knives.

Communication

Similarly, communication takes place between two or more things. It is a process of sending and receiving information. When it is clear, the information received is the same as the information sent. I know a lot of people think this is easy, but in my experience of stakeholder consultation, people rarely say what they mean.

In the general scheme of things, you will never come right out and say “I am scared.” Possibly, you aren’t aware that’s what you’re feeling. You might be annoyed that the status quo is changing. You might think the other person is an idiot for wanting to try something different. You might be resistant because it’s just a bad time to talk. Any excuse that you come up with to say NO! is a response to your surface feelings, not the deep ones.

You’re not going to expose your deepest feelings unless you feel respected (considered). And you’re not going to feel respected unless you have spent time developing a deep and trusting relationship where your partner respects (courtesy) your feelings and opinions.

Time Money and Love

We often display our love through seemingly insignificant actions that cost time, not money. Saying thank you. Picking a rose from the garden as you come to the door. Making a cup of tea (or coffee) because your partner looked like they needed one. Being there to listen uncritically when they need to off-load. Knowing when to tease and when to let it alone. Sharing a word that symbolises a private joke you’ve kept going for a decade.

Assuming that you have picked small actions you know your partner will enjoy, they show a level of understanding and respect. They demonstrate you see your partner, are grateful for them, and appreciate their place in your life. But only for a short time. If you don’t keep offering tokens of love, your relationship will decline as your partner comes to feel you aren’t grateful or appreciative of them. And you might find the infamous “NOT made with love” post-it in your lunchbox.

Bearing in mind that this is your partner, not a customer or client, the stakes are high. If having a relationship with this person is part of your vision for the future, then you need to invest time demonstrating your respect, and communicating your appreciation. And who doesn’t love a hot cup or tea (or considerate substitute)?


Love on the Ice, Mt Buffalo c. 1912. Photo by Alice Manfield (1878 – 1962?) via State Library Victoria


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