22 Years of Friendship

Kristy, a staff member at AKLTG, was having a conversation with Lucy a month ago about how we’ve been able to stand each other for more than 20 years and hold our marriage together so many times in our tragic past when other couples would have given up for less. Her answers were no different from mine and it would be sound advise for any couple wondering if the partner he or she is about to marry is the “right one”.

I had a separate conversation around the same time to one of my WA graduates, Ais, who is in a relationship with another graduate from WA and WAT, R***. The two make a lovely pair. During the time I’ve known them, they have made AKLTG their second home and make-shift “pick-up” point where they meet after work. I caught Ais one night, waiting for R*** and decided to keep her company till he arrived. In our conversation, I casually asked what her relationship was to R*** … she declared they were “Best Friends”. So I prompted if they were going to get married and she shyly pushed away the question by answering that in order to consider marriage, a couple must first be best friends so that the relationship can stand the test of time.

Deja Vu.

There was no need to make any comment or give advice to this young couple. They are on the right path to a loving and happy life together. She did ask me for three specific tips to improve her life. My first tip on success was to never quit persevering. I even quoted her two of my favorite quotes on success;

You always pass failure on the way to success.” ` Mickey Rooney

and …

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas Edison

My tip on financial success;

Be happy with what you have because small fortunes breed bigger ones, small thanks lead to greater gratitudes and every financial problem is only a temporary set back meant to garner more momentum for the next ride up to the top.

My tip on life;

Set your goals. Stay focused. Take a dare. Be greedy. Stay Hungry. After all, you only live once so what have you got to lose?

These are the same sound advice I took throughout my life, in good times and bad, for better or worse. They were codes of life that Lucy and I held dear and close to our beliefs … and we believed. We put our faith in our strength as a couple, as friends, as parents. We put faith in our ability to survive and surpass. We put faith in knowing that others have done it thus so can we. We put faith in God to watch over us and give us strength.

Today we put faith in the fact that we’ve done it so many times in the past that we can do it again in the future if the need arises.

So what is the one piece of advice I will give to a couple who want to know if their friendship can stand the test of time? One word – cohabit.

A relationship, like any business, has a time test. In business, the first year is finding the footing and controlling budgets and hoping you don’t lose too much money and wipe out your first year in business. In the second year, you find out if your business partners truly have what it takes to run the business and grow it. The third year is make-or-break time. Any business that survives the third year usually goes on to bigger success and longevity.

In a relationship, the first year of cohabiting will breed either familiarity or contempt. Small things like squeezing the toothpaste tube, tardiness and spending habits come to the fore. Tolerance and patience will be tested. Adaptability and flexibility will be stretched.

The second year will test the financial strength of the couple. Ambition, pride, greed, hunger (or the lack thereof) will come to the fore and the couple struggle to financially understand each other better.

The third year usually is a test of fidelity. While many fail, few persevere to overcome, forgive and move on. In other cases, the couple tire of each other’s company and as they say, the spark fades. For some, chicken rice everyday is boring. But for whatever reason the relationship gets tested, it happens for a reason and it is best to find out sooner rather than later.  Those who survive, forgive and move on, usually go on to have a really meaningful relationship and later, a marriage.

Being unfaithful is not something to be taken lightly but for those who have lived through this, they will tell you that it is better to know your and/or your partner’s weakness and work to make it better than to give up and repeat the process with another new partner and constantly live in doubt about the fidelity of your new partner.

Nobody is going to be perfect. And if we accept that, then the next step is to be a friend and love your partner for everything he/she is, flaws and all. The three year cohabitation test is a small investment of time for the long term future of the life-long partnership.

In trading, we take controlled risks. Sometimes we get beaten, sometimes it works out. But we take the trade knowing the risks it carries and in the long run, the good trade will reveal its intrinsic value while we cut losses on the bad ones.

In life, we do the same thing. It can be a painful life lesson but it is necessary in our on-going quest to find that perfect partner that may never exist. So we cut our losses if it doesn’t work out and we hedge ourselves on the one that just might hide an intrinsic value.

I made a few “trades” in my early years. Some of them were good ones with no intrinsic value while others had to be cut for both our sakes. A few were meant to be nothing more than good friends while a few others just weren’t meant to be. Then there were those few … erm … how shall I say, … “scalps” …  *Ahem*

But I did find one that met most of my fundamental and technical criteria. Heck, she even fit into my budget! I guess I must have made it into her watchlist too because I became her prime investment. She became a friend, a buddy, a lover, a soul mate and finally, my wife and mother to my two kids. The ride up the chart was filled with corrections, pull backs, spikes, dips, rallies and even at one stage, it almost became a junk stock. But she still saw value. In fact, I had become a truly undervalued stock that no one wanted. But she stuck with her investment and in spite of a few more dips, today she is reaping the dividends of her investment.

Me? I still enjoy my “scalps” on the same stock for the last 22 years.

Happy Birthday, Lucy, my love … its been a good time, its been a rough time, its been a time of our lives and I look forward to more with you.

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