Hoping for a fun Valentine’s Evening… but racking your brains to find something that will hit the mark with your loved one?
Did you know that in long-term relationships, often it’s the little things that count? But I hear you ask, which little things???
What if I said, the little things that move the dial the most in their emotional bank account– that concept that Stephen Covey, John Gottman and other authors and psychologists have referred back to over the decades. Trust me, after 20+ years of working with countless couples in this space, I’m yet to find a concept more powerful.
A bit of background…
In case you missed it, our emotional bank accounts (EBAs), are nothing more than those mental records we all keep, consciously or unconsciously, of our interactions with each of the people around us. Positive interactions register as deposits in the account. Negative interactions register as withdrawals. The net balance is kind of a gauge of the overall temperature of the relationship. When there’s a healthy positive balance, the relationship ‘feels’ great. But when the balance runs dry or into overdraft, everything can become a problem!
You’re probably already aware that deposits and withdrawals into the EBA have nothing to do with yourintentions– which is why some of the “little things” you may have tried in the past haven’t achieved the desired response! In EBA land, deposits and withdrawals are all about theirperceptions. So, it doesn’t really matter what you wanted to say or do… what counts is how things land with them.
Success comes from learning how to minimise (usually unintentional) withdrawals and maximise deposits, so that we can be on purposeabout keeping emotional bank accounts topped up!
Time to rescue the evening?
So, if you’re out there trying to think what will pour a whole lot of deposits into their EBA and make your loved one feel special on this day of love, firstly here’s a list of things to avoid to keep you out of trouble:
- Don’t just do what you’ve always done (unless it has worked in the past, but even then, do something additional!)
- Don’t do what works for you(remember they’re not you, and you’re not going to change that!)
- Don’t just do what you’ve seen work for other people (they’re not them!)
- Don’t just do what you used to do in the early days of your relationship (when the emotional bank was probably full – in those situations you can get away with almost anything… when it’s drained, you’ve got to do a whole lot better for your deposits to register)!
Instead, consider doing the following:
- Stop and ask yourself, what requests have they made of you recently?… “you never help me with xyz”, “why do you keep doing that?”, “we just don’t seem to spend time together any more”. They will usually have expressed their deepest need in one way shape or form.
- Based on what you probably have wringing in your ears, here are a couple of semi-radical ideas:
- It may be that you pick a bunch of wild flowers on the way home (probably best notfrom the neighbours garden!)
- It may be that stop off at the local shop, pick up some ingredients and cook them a surprise meal tonight! (and if you’re not the world’s best cook, don’t worry, that is unlikely to feature here).
- It may be that you give them a long (at least 20 mins) full body massage – no strings attached! (worst case, you’ve probably got a bottle of olive oil in the kitchen somewhere!)
- It may be that you just spend the time on your journey home writing them a letter telling them why they’re so special to you!
- You decide, but whatever you do, once you’ve gotten over the initial shocked response, it’s almost guaranteed to make lots of deposits in their EBA, if you’ve read them right.
- And whatever you do, do it extravagantly! No skimping now…