There’s a magic ratio that can make your relationship stronger.
Couples in stable, happy relationships have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions during times of conflict, according to research from Dr. John Gottman. Both he and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, are famed relationship researchers and founders of The Gottman Institute.
So what does this have to do with bank accounts?
After decades of observing couples in their Love Lab, researchers at The Gottman Institute realized that most couples weren’t actually fighting about specifics (like money, sex, etc.). They were really fighting about a breakdown in their emotional connection. Since “lost emotional connection” is kind of, ya know, a heavy and intimidating topic, they decided to use the Emotional Bank Account to help couples reconnect.
Imagine that a negative interaction withdraws a nickel from the Emotional Bank Account, and a positive interaction deposits a penny. Just like a financial bank account, you want to keep an Emotional Bank Account from going negative. This means that in times of conflict, every negative needs five (or more) positive interactions.
Withdrawals include gestures like being emotionally dismissive, eye rolling, and lashing out. An overdrawn Emotional Bank Account causes feelings of doubt, disconnectedness, and loneliness.
Deposits can be anything from giving your partner a compliment to expressing physical affection to spending quality time with them. The goal is not grand gestures, but rather small, consistent, daily, positive interactions.
When the account is flush with (emotional) cash, partners are better able to keep a positive perspective of the relationship and weather difficult times. They are more emotionally connected.
Some ways to make Emotional Bank Account deposits:
- Tell them something you appreciate about them.
- Give them more kisses and physical affection.
- Make them their usual morning matcha when you know they have a stressful day ahead.
- Spend quality time with them, phones down.
- Plan a date night.
This really gives a whole new meaning to emotional spending.
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