The Gottman Institute, started by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, also teaches about the Emotional Bank Account developed by Stephen R. Covey. Dr. John Gottman is famous for predicting whether a marriage will work out or not with 90 percent accuracy after a 15 minute interview.
Their studies show that happy or unhappy marriages develop over how marriage partners manage their Emotional Bank Account.
Here is an example:
A couple is watching TV and one gets bad news about his friend. His partner can either turn to him with a thoughtful question or turn away by not commenting or acknowledging the bad news.
“Think of it this way: how would you feel if you expressed something that you care about to your partner, and they didn’t respond at all? You probably wouldn’t feel very good. But if your partner gave an indication that they are listening to you and that they care about what you have to say, you will likely feel connected to your partner.”
” In a six-year follow-up study of newlywed couples, couples who remained married turned toward their partner’s bids for emotional connection 86% of the time in the lab, while those who divorced averaged 33%. The difference between happy and unhappy couples is how they manage their Emotional Bank Account. “
Stephen R. Covey has identified six ways to manage Emotional Bank Accounts:
1) Understanding the Individual.
2) Keeping Commitments.
3) Clarifying Expectations.
4) Attending to the Little Things.
5) Showing Personal Integrity.
6) Apologizing When We Make a Withdrawal.
The 5:1 ratio
The Gottman Institute talks about a 5:1 ratio–Five acts of turning towards your partner with positivity, to one act of turning away, or negativity, in order to keep your Emotional Bank Account healthy and full.
This focus on healing our relationships and teaching us that the little ways we treat each other can erode or enhance a relationship is so needed. Emotional Bank Accounts are built into every relationship we have, and sometimes we don’t treat the people we love the most with our best appreciation and courtesy. I love this reminder that all these small ways of positivity and trust can build strong relationships with not only with our marriage partners, but also with our children and grandchildren.
What a gift that will keep on giving when we teach those we love how to make deposits and not withdrawals in our Emotional Bank Accounts!