The Energy Accounting of Intimate Relationship

Here’s what makes a long-term relationship “worth it.”

Ken Blackman
The Craft Of Intimate Coupledom
8 min readDec 21, 2022


Here’s a question. Is your relationship worth it?

I can’t give you the answer, or even a formula that could tell you. But I can help you understand the math your heart is already doing on the topic, why it’s coming up with the results it is, and what would need to be different if you’re not happy with what it’s telling you.

I’m going to say a few things that seem self-evident and pointless…
then something surprising and apparently impossible…
then something very concrete and applicable.

Irreplaceable bond, or fair-weather relationship?

Let’s start with some context. When times are good—when your life in general is going well—it’s easy to love. It feels good to do nice things for each other. Being generous and loving comes naturally. Relationships tend to thrive in the fertile soil of a good life.

When life challenges have you feeling drained or stressed, the solidity of the relationship is revealed more starkly, one way or the other.

You might feel more gratitude than ever—I’m sooooo glad to be facing this with you by my side, I can’t imagine trying to do it alone!

Or you might feel the opposite—you start to experience them as an additional burden and feel resentful. All this plus having to deal with you too?

What is it that determines whether a relationship feels like the most valuable asset you have in the hardest of times, or an added liability you might just be better off cutting from your life?


Let’s say that everything you do for your partner, or for the relationship, is a form of energy. Your time and attention, supporting your partner emotionally when they need it, learning to speak their love language, financial support, happily doing activities your partner enjoys more than you, and so on. All different forms of energy.

And everything you receive from the relationship, everything that nourishes and fills your cup, is also energy.

If I asked you the exchange rate for your time, or the ROI of supporting your partner when they’re down, or the cost of having difficult conversations, or the dividends from great sex, you…