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Deposit into Relationships and the Emotional Bank Account

Relationship’s little moments add up to a big moment

By David A. Morris, LCSW

Start making positive relationship deposits into a emotional bank account.

Start depositing positive things into your relationships and your partner’s emotional bank account. It’s the difference between “[shrug] I don’t know” and “I’ll go check :)”. In intimate relationships, we are involved in consistent interactions through out the day. It may not seem terrible important but as a whole; together it adds up to something quite big.

In Dr. John Gottman’s research of 800 couples over the course of many years, he wrote in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, “happily married couples noticed almost all of the positive things the researchers observed their partners do for them…unhappily married couples underestimated their partners’ loving intentions by 50 percent!”

Are you heading positive or negative?

Your perspective and how receive your partner’s comments/actions often dictates how you respond back. One spouse might comment, “Did you do any laundry today?” This could be received neutral to positive, e.g. “Not yet, but I am hoping to” or it could be received neutral to negative, “I haven’t had any time, so don’t ask me for anything else today.”

<(negative) ———-<<———- (neutral) ———–>>————(positive)>

In relationships, the more positive deposits you can make the more likely your partner will receive a negative comment more neutrally. It is like any bank; you can’t take out what you haven’t already put in.

How can I deposit more into the positive emotional bank account of my partner?

  1. Try Turning Towards – Both emotionally and physically look to turn towards your partner/spouse. Physically face them, make eye contact, and relax your posture. Emotionally, listen to their feeling expression and hear the content of their words. Try to summarize what you think you heard.
  2. Practice Empathy – Spend a few minutes each day wondering what it is like to be your partner/spouse. Think of their highs, lows, stresses, and achievements. Rehearse the words you say when arriving home or leaving to go out based on what fits their needs best.
  3. Be Purposefully Humble – Look for opportunities to do something they like, say something they appreciate, and touch them in a way they enjoy.
  4. Hesitate and Delay – Receive as many comments or non-verbal communications neutrally. Slow down your “jump to conclusions” and delay your judgment of the situation. Ask for clarity before heading in the wrong direction.

New Directions Counseling Services has seasoned, smart, and compassionate therapists to help you through your relationships and improve your partner/spouse’s emotional bank account. Give us a call to schedule you an initial appointment. See our phone number in the right hand column.