Few things in life stir up positive and negative emotions as much as the exchanges that occur between a husband and a wife. No one keeps track on a ledger, but those exchanges between spouses always result in deposits in and withdrawals from their individual emotional bank accounts. A happy marriage depends on a couple discovering how to keep each other's emotional bank account in the black.
Perhaps you've noticed that your spouse's mood seems to be low when he or she is with you. Maybe he or she is often irritable in response to your comments. Perhaps you've been making more withdrawals than deposits in their emotional bank account.
Some husbands are confused about why their wife doesn't seem happier when he brings home a bouquet of flowers. Some wives wonder why their performance in the bedroom isn't creating a better mood around the rest of their home.
It's not rocket science, but there is some science to it. Consider these tips.
1) Know your spouse's emotional currency
The way in which individuals prefer to receive affection from others differs from person to person. We can call this emotional currency because when expressing and receiving affection aligns with these preferences, you’re exchanging valuable goods. The person expressing affection is giving from their own emotional resources. The person receiving is accumulating emotional resources.
Advertisements often promote giving jewelry and flowers as if giving these is the only emotional currency that matters to women. Sexual favors are often touted as the only emotional currency men want from women. But people are more complex than marketers might lead you to believe. Some people prefer quality time, others words of encouragement and some do prefer gifts.
Cultivate curiosity about what warms your spouse's heart. Observe, ask questions, and remember what you discover. My wife loves it when I spent time digging around in the vegetable garden with her. I warm up when she snuggles up to me on the couch while we watch a movie. When you discover your spouse's emotional currency, take notes if it helps you remember.
Also, keep this in mind. There are some currencies that are universally accepted. These include sincere expressions of gratitude and appreciation. Also, widely accepted for making deposits is what marriage researcher John Gottman calls "turning toward." We turn toward our spouse when we give positive acknowledgment to their comments, as insignificant as those comments may seem--even comments about the weather.
2) Make deposits often
Emotional withdrawals are impossible to avoid. We all make mistakes. We say something insensitive or mean. We forget to follow through on things we agreed to do. But when we put our effort into making frequent deposits in our spouse's emotional bank account, an occasional withdrawal won't put us in the red. When you discover your spouse’s emotional currency, use it often. Gottman's research has discovered that couples whose positive exchanges outnumber negative exchanges at a ratio of five to one have the happiest marriages. Every deposit in your spouse’s favorite currency is a positive exchange.
Keep Your Marriage’s Emotional Bank Account in the Black #marriage
A version of this post also appeared on LifeZette.com.