Take a moment to reflect on the important relationships in your life, relationships with your spouse, your children, your parents. Really think about the state of those connections, how you feel about the person, which of them you would call if you were in a pinch right now.
Chances are you have an intuitive sense of how things stand, even if you would have a bit of trouble putting that into words.
You can think of this assessment as a look at the Emotional Bank Account (EBA) of the relationship, a metaphor popularized by thought leader Dr. Stephen Covey. Just like checking your balance online, you can check in with your feelings and see how your Emotional Bank Account stands in one relationship or another.
If you’re feeling great, chances are the account is in good standing! If you’re feeling uneasy, insecure, or even upset, then it sounds like the funds in the account are dwindling, or worse, you’re already overdrawn.
When we talk about the “funds” in the Emotional Bank Account, obviously we aren’t talking about dollars here.
Trust is the currency of relationships.
We have to trust our loved ones and partners to support us in the hard times, to celebrate with us in the good times, and to respect our vulnerabilities. If we want to share our lives with our partners, it’s important to have an EBA filled with a healthy amount of Trust.
Just like with a financial account, we keep our Emotional Bank Accounts in good standing by making regular deposits. Deposits come in many forms, and we all accept different kinds of deposits. Some of us really appreciate gifts, others crave physical affection, while others speak the language of service.
For Erica, a great deposit may be a cookie from the bakery on the corner. Melinda really appreciates a little help with the dinner dishes. Meanwhile, Tori really just needs a hug after a long day.
We all tend to try to make deposits in the same way that we receive them, but it’s important that we pay attention to our partners and try to give them deposits in a “currency” that they appreciate. This shows our investment in making them happy, and we can learn so much about our partners and ourselves by talking about our needs and desires!
Turning towards a bid is another great way to make a deposit in your relationship, while turning away from a bid is often perceived as a withdrawal.
Withdrawals are any actions that can take away from the trust of a relationship, such as harsh criticism, manipulation, or shaming your partner.
Just like with your finances, a secure account can handle a few withdrawals, but too many withdrawals and you risk undoing all the good you have deposited. It’s best to be aware of any action you take that may be perceived as a withdrawal and commit to making more than enough deposits to compensate for it.
If you want to keep all of your Emotional Bank Accounts in good standing, you should make a decision to invest small deposits frequently. It’s great to make big deposits occasionally, like treating your partner to a night at the theater or gifting your mother with a well-thought out scrapbook, but it’s really the little, daily deposits that add up to a healthy and secure Emotional Bank Account.
When the hard times come, like they always do, you’ll be happy that you invested in a little extra Trust, and the relationship can keep going strong!