How Healthy is Your Relationship Bank?

Thinking of your relationship in terms of a bank account can be hugely valuable in understanding whether your relationship balance is growing or depleting. Every single day we are constantly doing things that either enhance our love and connection (deposits), or reduce it (withdrawals). The key is to understand what constitutes deposits and withdrawals so that we can continue to build our relationship bank.

A great way to understand this is to think of positive interactions as deposits into your relationship bank, and negative interactions as withdrawals. Generally when we begin a relationship we build our bank quickly. We are attentive to our partner’s needs, we put forward our best version of ourselves, and usually the sex is great! We build an investment in our relationship that provides the foundation for our future together.

However, what usually happens is we get to a point where our relationship bank plateaus, and, in many cases, begins to dwindle down (in some cases to bankruptcy). Often this can happen after about six to twelve months when our hormones have reverted back to their normal levels and the excitement of a new relationship begins to fade. In other cases it can happen when the dynamic of your relationship changes, such as moving in together, getting married, or after children appear in your lives. At these junctures we often tend to stop doing the things that created that initial spark between us.

So, what will build your relationship bank, and what will deplete it? There are many things that will determine the health of your relationship bank. Here are a handful of the most common behaviours you can do to increase your bank, and to avoid to stop decreasing your bank:

Deposits

  • Regularly tell your partner that you love and appreciate them (at least once a day)
  • Do helpful things for your partner without having to be asked
  • Touch your partner when, where and how they like it
  • Spend time together doing things that increase each other’s feeling of connection
  • Be supportive and understanding when your partner is upset or concerned about something

Withdrawals

  • Being dishonest or secretive
  • Putting your partner down or discrediting their achievements
  • Withdrawing intimacy, or withholding physical affection as punishment
  • Regular and aggressive outbursts of anger
  • Infidelity, or overt displays of affection to someone else (this can often deplete your entire bank instantly)

 

One negative interaction will cancel out up to 20 positive interactions

It is often proffered that it takes one positive interaction in a relationship to offset every five negative interactions. However, John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work, explains that this is only during conflict, and that the figure in general is more like 20:1. This is because we attach stronger emotion to the negative interactions, as they create fear of the loss of love (and potentially the relationship). No wonder relationships can seem hard!

One of the tricky parts of this model is understanding exactly what constitutes a deposit, and what constitutes a withdrawal. For many of us, the items listed above will be self explanatory and it will be obvious when we have contributed or withdrawn from our relationship bank. However, each of us is a unique individual, and what constitutes a withdrawal or deposit for us may be different for our partner. Some examples could include:

  • Having regular alone time
  • Showing affection in public
  • Being sexually assertive
  • Regularly creating, or accepting invitations to, social events
  • Keeping everything neat and tidy all the time

On some occasions these could be quite different from one partner to the other. It’s vitally important to understand what your partner feels constitutes a deposit and a withdrawal, rather than assuming that what you prefer is what they should prefer. Being empathetic to your partner’s needs and preferences is vital to a healthy relationship, and is the key to continually building your relationship bank. So don’t just assume, take the time to ask and listen to your partner.

It’s also vitally important to note when your partner is making a deposit. Often we can be so fixated on the withdrawals that we fail to add the deposits to our bank. Being realistic about our expectations, and understanding that our partner is not deliberately trying to hurt us, can help us to see some of those deposits that we may have been overlooking. Bringing awareness of these to our partner will likely result in more positive behaviours in the future, and help you to avoid bankrupting your relationship.

If you would like a relationship banker to help you build your relationship bank, contact Matt on 0416 211 424 or email matt@happyandhealthyrelationships.com

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