An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.
– Stephen Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change has given me the best insight on relationships. I never thought about it this way. If we look at a financial bank account, we regularly make deposits into it and make withdrawals when we need to. If we look at it from an emotional standpoint, this could be the most life-changing chapters I’ve read in any book in my entire life.
Each person has an Emotional Bank Account; couples also have Emotional Bank Accounts. The accounts link but they are three independent accounts; you can even transfer deposits between the three, and sometimes this is necessary, but you must be careful not to deplete one to fill the other.
In order to make a withdrawal, you must have something in your account to take out. Otherwise, you have an overdraft and applicable fees will apply. Those fees come in different forms: stress, anxiety, depression, anger, volatility, exhaustion, disorientation, loneliness, insomnia, overeating, over-drinking, over-smoking, and general feelings of dis-ease.
When you over-draft your Couples Emotional Bank Account additional fees may apply: low libido, snarkiness, irritability, disconnection, and a general lack of luster.
“If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me “an offender for a word.” When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
Both accounts (Personal and Couples) need to be monitored to be sure that you don’t go into overdraft mode. The best bet is to try to always keep both accounts at least half-full; sometimes this is not possible and in those times it’s even more important that your partner is helping by adding to your accounts.
Both people in the relationship need to make deposits into the Couples Emotional Bank Account, and BOTH people need to make sure that they are monitoring their own Personal Bank Account.
You all know how it feels when your emotional bank account is depleted; I don’t need to explain that feeling of being completely drained.
But how do you make deposits?
For your Personal Account, you should do things for yourself that you enjoy, and that brings you feelings of peace:
* Go to bed early with a good book and a warm pack for your back.
* Snuggle up on the couch and watch television or a movie in front of a warm fireplace.
* Go to lunch with a friend.
* Take a nap.
* Browse a bookstore or a shop you like without intention.
* Turn off the phone and just relax.
* Make grilled cheese and tomato soup.
* Bubble baths.
* Pet your dog.
* Take a walk in the park.
* Buy flowers for your bedroom.
* Create something.
You should make your own list of things that bring you peace and happiness. Things that you can do just for yourself without relying on anyone else. During times where you feel as though your account is running low, take out your list and do something on it. Even if that something is only for 20 minutes, it will help to make a small deposit into your account.
Your Couples Emotional Bank Account works similarly. Banking positive memories, thoughts and feelings is the best way to keep your account in the black. When times get a little rough or stress from work, family, school, or other things get in the way you will have enough in reserve to sustain you through that time without over-drawing.
Ways you can add to your Couples Emotional Bank Account (together activities):
* A quiet dinner out, preferably in a place that provides you warm lighting and ambiance.
* A day away from all responsibilities.
* A day in bed. Naked.
* Long make-out sessions on the couch while watching tv or a movie.
* A trip away where you can focus on each other and having fun.
* Candles at dinner for no reason.
* Walking hand in hand.
Now the third (and sometimes most important) deposits to make are the deposits you make into each others accounts. You’ll find that you get a Two-For-One on these deposits because not only do they deposit into your partner’s account; you deposit into your Couples Account as well. These deposits make the best sense as you earn interest and bonuses. Some ways to do this:
* Clean up after yourself; Don’t expect your partner to do it for you.
* Do something around the house that is unexpected (a chore, a purchase, an outside project, something that’s perhaps been on the To-Do List for six months.)
* Change and wash the sheets on your bed.
* Put away your partner’s laundry.
* Prepare dinner and have it waiting for your partner when he or she arrives home. (Wrapping yourself in Saran Wrap with a martini in your hand is optional.)
* Give your partner a massage or rub his or her feet.
* Give him or her a pedicure.
* Bring home flowers.
* Surprise your partner with tickets to an upcoming show/movie/event.
* Call your partner and take him or her to lunch.
* Hug your partner closely and tell him or her, “I really, really, love you.”
* Leave your partner a love note, Facebook note, e-mail, or text message.
And when you do one of these things, do it without expecting anything in return. No Quid Pro Quo, otherwise no deposit is made; one is made and one is withdrawn, thereby not adding anything. These deposits are about expressing love.
Now, if your partner wants to do something for you, then it’s WIN-WIN; there are multiple deposits made but they both must be made selflessly. That is the bonus I was talking about.
When you maintain these accounts and watch your deposits and withdrawals you will find that you will have a much happier and healthier life and relationship.
Balance your accounts; you’ll find the dividends quite rewarding!