The emotional bank account that is your love can only grow when you make more deposits than withdrawals. Otherwise, you’re writing checks you can’t cash (and no one wants to be in the red!). Researcher John Gottman’s 6-year newlywed study concluded that couples who remained married turned toward their partner’s bids for emotional connection 86% of the time in the lab, while those who divorced averaged only 33%. The difference between happy and unhappy couples is how they manage their Emotional Bank Account.
Danger comes when your account balance starts to drop, and you both tend to feel disconnected, lonely, and confused.
Before we tell you HOW to make daily deposits into your love bank, we’ll tell you WHY couple’s banks get into trouble in the first place. And no, it doesn’t involve insider trading.
2 terms John Gottman will want you to know: bids for connection and turning towards/away from each other.
- Bids For Connection: Any attempt by you or your partner to engage or interact with each other. Verbal ones like “I’ve been missing you lately!” or “Dinner tonight?” are a little more obvious than non-verbal bids like smiling, playful tickling, or affectionate touching.
- Turning Towards or Away: Say you’re watching TV together, and they say “Oh I forgot to tell you. Maura and Simon found out they’re pregnant!” You can turn towards them by asking follow up questions and showing interest in their friends. Or you can turn away from them by continuing to watch TV.
Each time you turn away from a bid that your partner makes towards you, you make a withdrawal from your emotional bank account. Each time you turn towards them, you make a deposit.
So… ready to GET RICH?
5 Things You Should Do EVERY DAY:
Step 1. Be Mindful.
It’s typically laziness, not malice, that causes rifts to form. Life is stressful, days are busy, and we forget to prioritize their bids for connection (or make any ourselves). Step 1 is being mindful of the attempt to connect.
Step 2. Express Appreciation.
Kindness is free. There is no reason you shouldn’t throw it around like confetti. Saying “You look great today!”, “Have you been working out?”, “I love this dinner!” or “Thank you for taking care of _____” means so much. Don’t be stingy.
Step 3. Discuss Stress.
One study found that “spillover” from external stressors are one of the biggest reasons couples seek therapy. Taking just 20 minutes to touch base - typically at night - is worth it’s weight in gold. It doesn’t just alleviate your stress by talking about it, it strengthens your connection with each other.
Step 4. Be Understanding.
Verbalize your support when your partner tells you about their day. Nodding is great, but peppering in a “I totally get why you’d be frustrated,” or “I’d have hurt feelings too,” is a direct message to them that reads: I’m in your corner.
Step 5. Be Affectionate.
Sure, it sounds simple. A study confirmed what most of us likely suspected: When couples have great sex, they’re more likely to kiss passionately (for no reason) and snuggle (because why not?). Which begs the question, did the great sex come first? Or did the affection act as a gateway to amazing, knock-your-socks-off sex? (Our money is on #2.)
Making these 5 tiny, miniscule, super-simple deposits into your emotional bank account every day (and let’s be clear here, they probably all can be accomplished in a matter of minutes, so there are no excuses) then all that stands between you and a massive fortune of happiness is consistency (and a great interest rate).
Stay conscious of bids for connection, turn towards even when you want to turn away, and try to keep making more deposits than withdrawals. Watch out Oprah! Step out of the way Jeff Bezos! We’re coming for you Bill Gates! But you’re richer than all three combined, because you have the love of your partner - and you can’t put a price tag on that.