Most of us work to live our cherished dreams of having our own house, buying our favorite
food, funding the studies of our kids, and other essentials of livelihood. Tracking our physical
needs is a relatively easier task. But most of us are clueless when it comes to finding
“fulfillment” in our intimate relationships. Yes, with that ‘one’ person.
Jiddu Krishnamurti says that most human beings aspire to have ‘one’ in their life. But they
are faced with the lifelong anguish of searching for that love and sticking to it. In between are
daily struggles, conflicts, misunderstandings, and doubts where every little action and
situation creates a ripple of mistrust in our belief regarding the strength and quality of our
It is not that we want differences and arguments. We fight, make up, and promise to not
repeat it again, trying to live in harmony and bliss with our partner. But wake up the next day
to find a way to rehash the previous conflict in a new/ familiar form. It is believed that 69% of
conflicts are perpetual, which means that you can't escape them, you can only learn how to
deal with them. What helps here is not the decrease of negativity but a conscious increase in
the positivity of the relationship.
I call it building the emotional bank account of a relationship.
Popular media has dramatically distorted our notions of romance. We want that ideal life of
never-ending bliss and ‘complete understanding’ with another person who we call ‘the one’.
But in reality, every relationship is dotted with conflicts, disagreements, and
misunderstandings. Much of which happen due to sheer personality differences of 2 people
in a relationship, their individual outlook, and perspectives. What do you do then when you
know that conflict is inevitable?
You prepare for the bad times by storing goodwill and happiness, just like how we store food
grains after a harvest. The correlation is simple.
Real-life romance is fuelled by how you interact with each other in the little moments that
make up your day. It is kept alive through a joined effort to stay connected. It is created each
time you let your partner know that he or she is valued and loved by you.
Romance grows in the kitchen when your partner asks, “Should I make tea for you?” It grows
in the verandah when they share, “I got a dream,” and you respond, “That’s wonderful, tell
me more about it!”, instead of shrugging it off and being hooked to your social media. In the
former, the partner responded to a bid with “turning towards", and in the latter, they “turn
away” – a choice that sends their partner a message about whether or not they are attentive,
caring, supportive. These everyday moments can either be a source of stability or stress.
In relationships, these seemingly unimportant moments are the ones that are most important
of all. They force you to make a quick decision, often entirely unaware that it may play a role
in determining the strength or weakness of your emotional connection! If you don’t pay
attention to these little moments, your failures to turn towards each other build-up, and you
risk undermining the strength of your bond. Luckily, there is a way to avoid putting your
relationship in jeopardy – Emotional Bank Account.
EBA is a bank account for storing emotional experiences (could be positive/ negative) with
your partner. In that account, you have:
· Credits – The times when your partner turns toward you emotionally
· Debits – The times when your partner turns away from you emotionally
Your Emotional Bank Account balance is a way to monitor how you feel about your
relationship, and it largely depends on the number of events of turning towards vs turning
Partners who characteristically turn towards each other rather than away are putting money
in the bank. They are building up emotional savings that can give them a sense of peace
and security when they go through hard times. Because they have stored up so much
mutual goodwill, they are better able to make allowances for each other when conflicts arise.
How you deal with conflict is largely dependent on how nourished or depleted your emotional
bank account is. The more positive deposits (incidents of turning towards) into your account,
the more secure you both will feel in your relationship. This makes it more likely that you are
willing to stop fighting, forgive, and move on. The more negative debits or turning away
situations in your relationship, the less secure and happy you will feel about your relationship
and the more likely you are to disconnect when problems arise.
Examples of Building Emotional Bank Account
Fondness and Appreciation – We all need to hear this. No one ever gets sick of someone
telling them how much their partner appreciates them. The more specific you can be, the
Accepting influence from your partner – Try out your partner’s suggestions with
enthusiasm. It also keeps the relationship on equal ground. This is really good for your
Support your partner’s dreams – It’s easy to forget about one’s dreams in the struggles of
life. Work, house, and kids tend to take over. You can initiate to know more about your
partner’s dreams and be supportive of them.
Sliding door moments – These are just a couple of minutes in a relationship, but this is
where trust is built. For example, you have asked your partner to assist with house cleaning.
But your partner ignores your effort and instead chooses to watch TV.
Complain, don’t blame – In a situation of conflict, we often hit the character of a person
instead of focusing on the problem at hand and discussing them. This will only lead to your
partner becoming increasingly defensive. Talk about the specific concerns instead of
attacking your partner as a person.
Just as it is never too early to deposit into your savings account, it is never too early to
deposit into your emotional bank account. So, start today and keep up your regular deposits!