Thursday, 17 March 2011

The emotional bank account - who knew you were keeping score?

When a relationship is new and exciting it seems we only notice the things we admire about our partner. And we tell them - frequently.
  • You're easy to talk to. I've never found myself saying these things before
  • You're beautiful - I can't keep my eyes off you
  • You're so kind - it gives me goosebumps...... etc
It may not always be in words. If you or your partner is the strong, silent type, there will be other ways to show each other how much you care. Cast your mind back and remind yourself how good it felt to hear these great compliments, to receive the positive strokes and loving looks. They all put credit into your emotional bank account. So what is the emotional bank account?
This is a well-used metaphor but worth using nevertheless because it's so easy to understand when the majority of us have more ordinary bank accounts. I often think the emotional bank account must be held off shore because it's not always in plain view! Think of it as your unconscious mind's way of keeping a check on the health of your relationship. It's a joint account so both of you are able to make deposits and withdrawals. However, instead of a distant bank keeping tabs on your spending and giving you an objective statement, you both have your own records - which can get out of synch. The balance can get low very quickly if you get out of the habit of making deposits. As a rule of thumb you need at least 5 compliments or positive strokes to balance out each single withdrawal in the form of complaints, nags, criticisms or failures to engage. What was easy in the beginning may have faded a bit over time. Relationships keep changing! Okay, so you can run along with a neutral account for a long time. Just like with your money, as long as you're in the black, no-one comes chasing after you. But it makes it very difficult to weather an unexpected storm, like a child's sudden illness, redundancy or the loss of someone near and dear. And it's much more of an existence rather than finding every day a joy to be together. And no - it's not your fault if life has got so busy with family, children, work and a hundred and one other things to do, that you've let yourself get into a rut. What is important is to notice that that is where you are and decide to do something about it. Little things make a difference Start putting credit back into your emotional bank account. You don't need to set aside separate time for this, just introduce little changes throughout your day because little things really do make a difference. Of course I'm going to recommend our book Let's Talk Love - written just for this purpose, with more than 150 love statements to start telling your partner how you love them. But I'm not going to ignore the value of the smile over breakfast, a stroke on the arm as you pass in the hallway, blowing a kiss as you drive off to work.... And finally don't forget to notice when your partner pays you a compliment. Sometimes I think we have selective deafness when our partner says something nice. It's almost as if we're making sure they score less than us, so we continue to look good. So turn on your mental hearing aid and make sure you record the deposit he or she is making!

No comments:

Post a Comment