One of our favorite metaphors is the Emotional Bank Account. If the idea of a bank account is too touchy right now, you can also think of it as a marble jar or a bucket.
Every loving action—turning towards bids, recognizing and acting on “sliding door moments,” checking in with each other, sharing a dream for the future—acts as a “deposit.” Couples can rely on this buildup of goodwill in their Emotional Bank Account as a sort of “rainy day fund” for when they are stressed out, in conflict, or just exhausted.
So what can you do when prolonged periods of stress, conflict, or anxiety have you feeling overdrawn? What can you do if you don’t feel like you have that cushion of kindness to fall back on?
You need a little “overdraft protection.” Here are three things you can do to stay out of the red:
- Train your brain to notice the good. We like to say “catch your partner doing something right,” rather than identifying and dwelling on the ways your partner is letting you down. Are they turning towards your bids for connection? Are they still doing that chore that you’ve gotten used to them doing? Even noticing if your partner looks cute or smiling at them can start to get your brain on the frequency of positivity.
- Express appreciation. Compliment your partner, say thank you, and call out when they do things that make you feel cared for.
- Talk about it. Tell your partner about your stress, and listen (without problem-solving!) to theirs. Share, without blame, that you’re feeling disconnected. Chances are they’re feeling the same way, and then you can start making deposits together.
What little things can you do that keep your Emotional Bank Account in the black?
Related Blog Posts:
- Invest in Your Relationship: The Emotional Bank Account
- Provide Positive Feedback
- The Positive Perspective: More on the 5:1 Ratio
The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.