The Emotional Bank Account
“At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is they are usually married to each other.”
These words, written some time ago by an Agony Aunt still ring true today. Couples can seem so unsuitable for each other. If he’s tidy, she’s messy – if she loves the outdoors, he loves watching tv – if she’s a saver, he’s a spender. In fact the more you think about it – it’s amazing that any relationship lasts at all.
Relationships are Peculiar Things
Relationships, in all their guises are peculiar things. For all the common bonds that link us there are dozens more irritants that seem to pull us apart.
I once went to the house of a newly married friend and was confused at the number of empty toilet rolls that littered the bathroom. I jokingly asked her why no-one threw the toilet rolls away and she turned to me with a deadly serious frown and informed me that she was making a stand. “He never puts them in the bin, so why should I?”
Small Things Become Big Things
It amazes me how the small things become the big things, both in life and in relationships. It has been said that familiarity breeds contempt and life seems littered with examples of this. When you start taking things for granted then an air of neglect can set in.
At Christmas my husband found a 10 year old card from me full of lovey-dovey sentiments. In it I spoke of how much I loved him and how much I missed him when he wasn’t around. It was a bit of a shock to re-read it because I suddenly realised how complacent I’d become in my marriage. I’m sure back then I never noticed if the toilet seat was up or down – but now it seems so important and it can set me cursing for hours.
The Emotional Bank Account
With my clients I often explain something called the emotional bank account. It’s a very simple idea that can redress imbalance in all your relationships. Bank accounts thrive on small regular deposits and likewise relationships thrive on small regular deposits of love, care and consideration. It’s the constant small things that make the difference.
Equally it’s the continual withdrawals from this emotional bank account that can see you going into the red with your relationships. When I told a client about the emotional bank account she suddenly realised why her 70 hour working weeks weren’t being appreciated by her family. She would often be late home, forget to call her husband, let down her children at the last minute. She was overdrawn in all her accounts at home.
People often use big sweeping gestures to ‘cancel-out’ their neglect. Like the parent who buys a child a huge present to make up for not being around – or the boyfriend who buys a big bunch of flowers after coming home drunk – again. These gestures are usually more about easing guilt rather than addressing the root cause.
Think about ways of making your partner really know you care. Remember it doesn’t have to be an extravagant gift. Words of encouragement and support will go a long way to helping you enjoy the relationship you’re in.