What’s the single most important thing you can do to have healthy relationships?
The single most important thing you can do is have one-on-one time get-togethers.
When my children were young, I was not connecting with them as much as I wanted.
I could not work out why we were not becoming closer, as I was in contact with them every week. So I went to a counselor and relayed my concern. She suggested I not only see them all together, but individually as well. So I did.
Sometimes when I called, I would speak to one daughter and not the other. When I went to see them, I would sometimes see one and not the other. I started to mix it up so they would have me sometimes with themselves and sometimes with their sisters.
Just that one idea helped me get closer to each of my three daughters more than I could imagine. They began to feel like each one was important to me, as I was giving them my time; not just individually, but all together as well.
In the beginning, I thought they would be jealous and angry because I did not want to see them sometimes. But as young as they were, they understood it was the other sister’s turn to spend quality time with me and their opportunity would come up next time.
How my world changed just by being open to new ideas and strategies! I have used this strategy ever since, even as they reached their adult years, with fantastic results.
What I was doing, in fact, was building up what I have come to know as their “emotional bank account”. This is where you show someone, in many different ways, that you love them.
The more you show them you love them, the more deposits you make in their account. The moment you find anyone is drifting away from you, it’s a warning that your emotional bank account is running low and you need to begin filling it up with acts of loving behaviour.
This is how it works. Let’s say you are having wonderful moments with one of your family members and enjoying his or her company and all is going well.
This is an indication your emotional bank account with that person is fairly high. If, at any moment, you have disagreements with that person, the impact on your relationship with him or her will be fairly small because it will make only a dent in your armour of love. Consequently, it will be a withdrawal from your account. Not much damage done.
When your emotional bank account is low when a disagreement arises, the impact will be big. It may escalate into an argument where you normally would say things you will regret later.
At this point, it is difficult to rekindle your relationship. It probably will take quite a bit of effort to bring it back to where it was. The efforts you make to bring it back will become deposits in their emotional bank account.
The idea is making sure you top up their emotional bank account on a regular basis. Then when it comes time–and I said when not if–to discuss differences of opinions, that is all they will be, discussions. And that is the way it should be; two people talking about the way they see things without it getting out of hand.
The next question you probably will want answered is, “How do we make emotional bank account deposits?” Simply do the things you know will make them happy by using the list below:
1) Acts of Service
2) Words of Affirmations
3) Physical Touch
5) Quality Time
If you would like to research this in detail, I recommend you read the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It even has a questionnaire you can do that will reveal to you which love language is highest on your list of priorities. It usually is not the one you presume it to be.
I recommend this book because it will give you knowledge about how to determine someone’s highest love language. This is a very powerful tool to have, because all you do is match the one that he or she needs most to bring his or her account back to a high balance again.
Can you see how this life tool will benefit you? Just imagine trying to show how much you care for someone. His or her highest love language may be “Gifts.” Yet you are trying to build up your account by hugging, kissing, dancing, etc. (Physical Touch) and it is not getting you anywhere. Or you are doing all the chores (Acts of Service) and he or she wants more quality time with you. And another one is you are buying gifts and all he or she wants you to do is say “I love you” more often or “You look fantastic” (Words of Affirmation). I hope you get the picture by now.
Wouldn’t it be more advantageous to you if you knew what is most important to the other person and not what you think is important to the other person? You bet.