Monthly Archives: November 2013

Are You Feeding Your Partner’s Pig?

Have you ever been overdrawn at your bank?  Even if you diligently track each deposit and withdrawal, it is possible to make a mistake and find yourself in the “red”.  You usually know fairly quickly when this happens because your bank stops covering your checks and they contact you immediately by email, phone calls and notices mailed to your address.  They also hit you with fees and it becomes an expensive problem to fix.  The best way to avoid the issue altogether, is to make sure you have a reserve…more money tucked away than you will spend in any given month.

Relationships have a similar accounting system.  Each of you carries inside your own emotional bank account that determines your overall feelings about the relationship.  Deposits and withdrawals are made daily by those around you.  Deposits are words, actions or feelings that make you feel loved and safe.  Withdrawals, on the other hand, happen when you feel unappreciated, unloved, fearful or stressed.  Unfortunately, unlike your bank, you don’t get phone calls and emails letting you know when your emotional bank account is overdrawn.  It would probably save you a lot of heartache if you were alerted by an outside observer.  But there are signs to watch for that will help you know when you’ve had more withdrawals than deposits.

When your emotional bank account is in the black (has reserves), you have a general feeling of well-being.  You are more patient and forgiving of other people’s flaws.  If your emotional bank account is in the red, you feel overwhelmed, irritable and drained.  Your stress levels are high and you often react negatively to situations that might not otherwise bother you.

During the holiday season, it is easy to allow yourselves to be overdrawn because the traditions you engage in to celebrate also cause you stress.  You are typically surrounded by family members (some you would rather not see), off your usual routines and diets and spending more money than you are comfortable with.  Just when you need to be your most patient selves, you can find yourselves prickly and overly sensitive.  A simple request from your spouse can spark an inappropriate emotional response.  Once spouses start draining each others’ accounts, it is easy to get in a negative spiral that can be difficult to climb out of.  Your reaction has a lot to do with the balance in your emotional bank account. A high balance?  You can weather your spouse’s bad day and sharp quip. A low balance? More angry words and hard feelings.

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Just as you are wise to watch the balance in your bank account when holiday shopping, you also need to keep an eye on your emotional bank account as well.  Marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman, determined that a long-term satisfying relationship will have at least 5 more positive interactions (deposits) to every negative interaction (withdrawal). When good will is built up through kind words, caring actions, and quality time spent together the connection is stable and can weather a disagreement or argument without World War III erupting. Conversely, when the account is low or overdrawn, the relationship can be in danger.

Suggestions to fill your spouse’s emotional bank account:

✦ Express appreciation often

✦ Listen attentively

✦ Learn your spouse: discover his/her likes and dislikes

✦ Keep your commitments

✦ Be affectionate – greet spouse with a kiss, write encouraging notes or texts

✦ Be generous with your time, attention, and kind words

✦ Pitch in to lighten the load

✦ Bond through fun, shared experiences

✦ Share inside jokes, phrases, and stories

✦ Learn to hold your tongue and to not react to every mood or irritation.

If you notice your partner is more irritable this holiday season, it might be time to start making deposits into their emotional bank account.  If things don’t start improving, your relationship may need some help to get back in the “black”.  Don’t wait!  Give us a call at PO2 and let us help you revive your relationship.

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Keep The Grinch Out Of Your Holiday Season

The holidays are a wonderful time full of excitement, traditions, friends and family.  We greatly enjoy the decorations, the food and the cold weather pleasures.  However, in the hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy for our marriages to take a backseat to all the shopping, wrapping and baking.

As wonderful as the holidays can be, they also bring a lot of stress and tension for most families.  Each of us has additional demands on our time and finances. With all the stress we tend to become irritated with our spouses.  We start to resent how much or how little they contribute to the madness.  It is stressful enough to feel forced to participate in office Christmas parties and gatherings you would rather avoid, but many couples are also faced with family traditions that are imposed upon them.

I worked with a client recently who hated every November and December.  She felt every holiday was a tug of war between her parents and her in-laws.  Every year she tried to plan and stretch so that each family was happy, but someone always got upset or felt they were being cheated somehow.  I’m curious to hear how this year goes. She got tired of the holiday drama and plans to be gone on a cruise (with her kids and spouse) for the entire week of Christmas.  I applaud her solution!  And her courage to buck tradition!

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The holidays can really take their toll on family relationships. If you need some help putting a little jolly back into your holidays, try some of these tips:

  •  Set realistic expectations.  Talk to your spouse and decide what is most important to your family this season.  Whether it is spending time with friends and family, celebrating the birth of Christ or spending time alone cuddling in front of a fire while watching your favorite holiday movies… just make sure whatever you decide, you make it a priority.  Anything else is just holly! 🙂
  •  Plan for down time.  Put it on your to-do list.  I promise you won’t regret it.
  •  Set a budget for your holiday spending and stick to it.  No matter what.
  • Consider gift cards.  They are quick to buy, don’t need wrapping and everyone gets what they like!  This is what everyone on my list is getting this year.
  • Take care of yourself.  Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep every night.  Exercise even though you are eating more junk.  Brush your teeth.  Wash your face.  Eat your veggies.  You know what I mean.
  • Put more focus on your kids and spouse than you do your extended family.  It is easy to get in the mode of trying to please everyone and striving to meet their expectations, but that won’t be the best for you and your family.  Remember:  it is OK to say “NO”.  Reading a book to your kids might not be on your list, but those are the memories they will keep with them forever.
  • At least once this season…reach out to someone who isn’t expecting a gift and give them something.  Your time, a hug, a cup of coffee…can mean more than an expensive gift. You will truly be spreading holiday cheer and you will feel better.  Really!  I know this stuff!

All of us here at Power of Two wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!

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