The concept of an emotional bank account has been talked about by many relationship experts. It is the idea that between partners (or actually between anyone who has an emotional relationship such as parent/child etc) there is an account like a bank account you would keep your money in, but it is for all that stuff you can’t actually physically touch – like actions and words. When you do something kind or say something loving you make a deposit in the emotional bank account and when you do something negative like harsh words or cold silences (or even bigger hurts) you make a withdrawal.
Sounds fair enough but here’s the catch – unlike money which is dollar for dollar equal, that is you take a dollar out you only need a dollar to put back in to get back to the same balance. With emotion, research has shown you need a minimum of 5 acts of kindness to counter 1 negative. So you can criticise your partner 20 times a day but you would then need to do 100 acts of kindness to bring you back to the same level you started on that morning. Now imagine how good your relationship would feel if you left out the 20 criticisms and just did the 100 acts of kindness.
This is not a zero sum game or about tit for tat. Healthy relationships thrive on mutual reciprocity that is not about obligation or coercion or keeping score but a genuine desire to make the other person’s life just that little bit better by you being there.
It is all about knowing what you need to do to build love and connection – the bigger the balance the more that you have available to weather the occasional storms that are inevitable in a long term relationship. So it is best to make an effort every day to deposit whatever you can whenever you can.
Simple things that can grow your balance right now include: kind words; being helpful even in small ways; keeping commitments; apologising for mistakes; being generally courteous. And the small things that will erode the balance include: angry words; cruel jokes; excluding or ignoring; not showing up or doing what you say you will.
You get to choose each and every day whether you will make a deposit or withdrawal. So what are you going to deposit in your partner’s emotional bank account today? You can find more tips and strategies for love growing in my mini-course 3 Steps to Love Growing – knock out the love killers and get really good at hitting the mark with your loving.
Until Next time...
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