Relationship Challenges

I'm sure you know how a bank account works. When you make deposits the bank account will grow. When you make withdrawals the bank account doesn't grow. It can also become overdrawn and become at risk of closing. 

Learn how to use the emotional bank account paradigm in your relationship.

The Gottman Institute for Couples found that the best way to make your emotional bank account grow, is to have lots of small deposits over a long period of time. This means if you make one large deposit now and then, it won't help your emotional bank account. It could even hurt your emotional bank account. This means you need lots of meaningful deposits over a long period of time.

Here are 11 small tips that will help you build the emotional bank account paradigm in your relationship:

  1. Say thank you often. This is one of those small deposits that will help build your emotional bank account. Try to be specific. For example, thank your husband when he listened to you vent about your day at the office.

  2. Say I appreciate often. This is another small deposit in your emotional bank account. Let your husband know that you appreciate how hard he works for the family, or, that he picked up dinner on the way home from the office.

  3. Complain don't blame. This means don't criticize one another. Learn to have a discussion about your problems that isn't so painful. This also means don't get defensive. Learn to accept responsibility in the argument.

  4. Develop empathy. Don't just listen to your partner, listen to your partner with empathy when they share a stressful event that happened during the day. This will let your partner know that you really care.

  5. Manage mobile technology. The next time you have dinner together leave the phone and the mobile gadgets behind. Spend time talking to one another. Ask questions and take a genuine interest in what your partner has to say. Mobile technology will always be there. You can use it at another time.

  6. Take care of yourself. This means get plenty of rest, make good food choices and exercise regularly. Take breaks during the day, and don't be too hard on yourself with your inner critic. It's true you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

  7. Accept influence from your partner. Try out your partners ideas with enthusiasm. This is really good for your emotional bank account. It also keeps the relationship on equal ground. This will help keep the relationship balanced.

  8. Support your partners dreams. It's easy to forget about your own dreams when you are in a relationship. Let alone, talk to your partner about them. You have a family, house and work. This doesn't leave much time for your own dreams. Tell your partner your dreams. This means, there needs to be safety in the relationship. Maybe, you want to take a night class or travel to an exotic place. Your dreams don't need to be the same, all the better if they are. But, you need to be supportive.

  9. Be willing to work at your relationship. All good relationships go through highs and lows. This is to be expected. What's important is that you work on repair. Don't jump to conclusions. It's alright to disagree.

  10. Contribute regularly to your emotional bank account. This doesn't mean that you count. Make it a habit to contribute to your emotional bank account. This will lead to a happy and successful relationship, that doesn't have to end up being a statistic.

  11. Sliding glass door moments. These are just a couple of minutes in your relationship. Although, it can only be a few minutes this is where trust is built. For example, you come home after a long day at the office and your spouse wants to talk to your about the children. You can simply walk away and carry on texting, or you can stop and listen. If you choose to stop and listen, you are making a substantial deposit to your emotional bank account. Now, at that particularly time it may not seem like a big deal. But, over a long period of time this will add up.

 It's never too late to start making deposits into your emotional bank account. Start today by just picking one of these. A little goes a long way.

If you liked this article, there is more in Relationship Challenges. There are many helpful tips that will help you create the happy and successful relationship that you desire. 

Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping couples in San Mateo, CA who are looking to rebuild a close emotional connection and get their relationship back on track. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on to learn more about her services and expertise.

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