Every relationship is like a bank account. Just like you deposit and withdraw money from a bank account, you also deposit and withdraw emotional currency from your relationships with others… and if your withdrawals exceed your deposits, your relationships will be dangerously overdrawn.
Relational Banking Theory
The idea of banking in relationships is a useful metaphor to describe the way that we build and maintain our relationships with others. Just as we deposit and withdraw money from a bank account, we also deposit and withdraw emotional currency from our relationships with others.
In a relationship, positive experiences like spending quality time together, sharing laughter, and expressing appreciation for one another are like deposits into the relationship bank account. These positive experiences build up a reserve of good feelings, trust, and connection that can be drawn upon during difficult times.
On the other hand, negative experiences like arguments, criticism, and neglect are like withdrawals from the relationship bank account. These negative experiences can deplete the reserves of positive feelings and can damage the trust and connection between two people.
In addition to positive and negative experiences, our actions can also be seen as deposits and withdrawals in the relationship bank account. For example, when we do something kind for our partner, we are making a deposit into the account. Conversely, when we behave in a hurtful or disrespectful way, we are making a withdrawal from the account.
Disciplining children can also be seen as a withdrawal from the relationship bank account, as it can be a source of conflict and tension that strains the relationship. However, it’s important to note that discipline can also be a necessary part of parenting and can ultimately strengthen the relationship if done in a respectful and loving way.
It’s important to remember that relationships require ongoing maintenance, just like a bank account. By making regular deposits into the account, we can strengthen our relationships and build a solid foundation of trust and connection. By being mindful of the withdrawals we make, we can avoid depleting the account and damaging the relationship.
Make Better Deposits
The frequency and size of your emotional deposits makes a huge difference in the quality of your relationships. Consistency is key to developing safe, trusting relationships.
For example, making grandiose displays of affection infrequently will not sustain a relationship as well as frequent, smaller displays of affection will. A relationship that has frequent, small emotional deposits will benefit from the occasional grand gesture… but occasional grand gestures on their own will not sustain a relationship.
Instead, relationships need constant deposits of love and affection. Since everyone receives and interprets love differently, I have found it very helpful to deliberately serve each member of my family with each of the five love languages every month.
The five love languages are a concept created by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.” The idea is that people express and receive love in different ways, and understanding these differences can help improve relationships. The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation: This love language is all about expressing affection through words. People who prefer this love language appreciate compliments, words of encouragement, and expressions of appreciation.
- Acts of service: This love language is all about actions. People who prefer this love language appreciate when others do things for them, such as cooking dinner or helping with household chores.
- Receiving gifts: This love language is all about tangible expressions of affection. People who prefer this love language appreciate thoughtful gifts that show that the other person was thinking of them.
- Quality time: This love language is all about spending time together. People who prefer this love language appreciate when others give them their undivided attention and engage in activities together.
- Physical touch: This love language is all about physical affection. People who prefer this love language appreciate hugs, holding hands, and other forms of touch that convey love and connection.
It’s important to note that everyone has a primary love language, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate other forms of love as well. Understanding your own love language and that of your partner can help improve communication, reduce misunderstandings, and increase intimacy in your relationship.
When Withdrawals Happen…
Withdrawals are inevitable. Every relationship experiences hard times and struggles. Children must be corrected. Spouses have differences of opinion. Family life, though wonderful, is sometimes frightfully complicated.
When withdrawals happen, it’s important to make deposits as quick as you can. Sincere apologies and acts of kindness can go a long way toward reimbursing those withdrawals.
Showing an increase of love after withdrawals happen can ensure that the balances stay high and the relationships remain strong.
In conclusion, the idea of banking in relationships is a powerful metaphor for understanding the dynamics of our interactions with others. By focusing on making regular deposits and minimizing withdrawals, we can build and maintain strong and healthy relationships that are built on a foundation of trust, respect, and love.