Dr John M. Gottman, a renowned author and expert in the field of relationship and couple work, coined the idea of an emotional bank account. Similar to our financial bank accounts where our goal is to have a positive balance and to build our savings, the same principle applies for an emotional bank account. Dr Gottman believes that on a daily basis, we make emotional bids for attention and connection. Depending on how often our partners, or we, turn away or towards each other, based on these bids for connection, determines whether our emotional bank account increases or decreases. Through many years of studies, Dr Gottman has established that the happiest couples work via a 5 to 1 ratio. So for every withdrawal they make, they make 5 deposits in return. This enables them to remain happy and fulfilled in their relationship.
Some ideas on how to keep your emotional bank account in the positive:
- Think small – do something small that you know your partner will appreciate every day or as often as possible. If you are unsure of what to do, ask your partner. To help you in this regard, it is advisable for you to know your partner’s and your love language. For more information on love languages, please read my love languages blog.
- Focus on what is going right in your relationship – Notice all the things your partner is doing right in the relationship rather than what they are doing wrong. In this way, it serves to reinforce the positive behaviour and it is more likely to increase the positive behaviour too.
- Address issues in constructive ways instead of critical ways – when emotions are high in tends to be difficult to think about the global consequences of what we want to say in that moment. Force yourself to be specific to the situation and to avoid generalising. You are more likely to be heard in this way and to reach a resolution. Remember to use “I” statements instead of “You” statements.
- Spend quality time together – regardless of whether your love language is quality time or not, spending quality time together will always serve to boost your relationship.
- Have fun together – whether you are being nostalgic, and laughing at fun, old experiences, or sharing a current funny moment or doing something new and positive together, these will all serve as a deposit in your emotional bank account.
- Finally, Be Mindful – Stop and spend some time thinking about all of the things that will make a difference for the 2 of you and start doing them. Be conscious and mindful of your relationship all of the time.