As a therapist, I love watching my clients have “aha” moments. This almost always happens when couples learn about the emotional bank account. Your emotional bank account’s balance responds to how much you put into your relationship and how much you take out. For example, when you send a funny email or plan a weekend away, you put “money” into your account. When you miss your partner’s attempts at connection or have an explosive argument, you withdraw from your account. Keep reading for two simple tips to keep your emotional bank account in the black:

Save for a rainy day. Like our actual bank accounts, we need to deposit more than we withdraw. This seems obvious, but it’s not so easy in practice. Most likely, you would never say, “I already paid my mortgage and stocked up on food at Costco, so I don’t have to go to work the rest of the month.” But, you may feel a similar sentiment when it comes to relationships: “We just had an amazing weekend together. I can probably put our relationship on the back burner for a few days.” Regardless of the health of your relationship today, there will be withdrawals tomorrow. Plan ahead.

Invest as early as you can. Many couples begin investing financially after their first child is born. But, what if they started a few years earlier? How much more would they have saved? Similarly, the earlier you invest in your relationship, the better. Premarital therapy is a perfect example of an early investment that pays off. Premarital couples have an opportunity to identify themes in their relationship and learn how to manage these patterns as their relationship continues. For long-term or married partners, the idea of investing early still applies. It’s better to reach out for help when your relationship account is overdrawn $100 than $5,000. When you seek therapy early, you give yourself the opportunity to bring your emotional bank account into the black and create a solid foundation for the future of your relationship.

Throughout it all, it’s important to keep perspective. Self-made millionaires are not created overnight. It takes dedication, patience, and consistency. There might be weeks and months of withdrawals that threaten to bankrupt your relationship. As long as you continue to invest in each other, you’ll end up right where you belong.

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