Monday, May 11, 2009

Marriage Monday: Better Make a Deposit

Hey gang!

Time for another Marriage Monday. The video above has nothing to do with today’s piece, but is really funny for couples that have a sense of humor.

Today’s piece is from the Mitch Temple book, The Marriage Turnaround, How Thinking Differently About Your Relationship Can Change Everything. In this excerpt, Mitch talks about how marriages are similar to bank accounts. It has some really good advice to keep your marriage out of marital bankruptcy.

The thing about old cliches is that some of them have been repeated endlessly through the years because they contain enduring truth. But maybe some of those truths need a fresh spin, or a new perspective.

Take that old saying your grandmother used to tell you: “You need to save up for a rainy day.” Well, there’s wisdom in that , but I’d like to take it beyond the piggy bank or your passbook account at the bank. In the context of our discussion in these pages, I would urge you to make small, consistent investments in your marriage. In other words, commit yourself to relationship banking.

That’s a concept that’s been around for a while, and I can understand why. It’s a simple but effective analogy.

Relationship banking simply says that you must put deposits each day into your spouse’s account. The more deposits you make, the better off your marriage will be. No matter how skilled you are and how much the two of you love each other, it’s inevitable that withdrawals will occur from time to time. Withdrawals are anything negative that causes a spouse hurt or negative feelings.

In real-life banking, what happens when you make more withdrawals than deposits? Overdraft. The same is true for your marriage. If you make more withdrawals than deposits, your relationship will become bankrupt.

When you were dating, you probably spent as much as thirty hours a week together. Because of that amount of time, you put multiple deposits in each other’s account. This built closeness and trust. You felt like this person you were dating was the queen or king of the world, and you treated him or her accordingly.

During the first couple years of marriage, you likely continued to add more deposits than withdrawals. But nothing in life is static. Because of stressors, hurt, resentment, and misunderstandings, you are now making fewer deposits and more withdrawals. The economy in your marriage has gotten way out of balance. Things are not as good as before. If you aren’t careful, you’ll go into the red. Your marriage will become bankrupt.

Something has to change. You must go back to the basics. Start putting deposits back in your spouse’s account no matter whether he or she understands, accepts it, or even reciprocates. No matter how your spouse treats you, do it anyway. Remember, in your vows you said, “For better or for worse.”

As I mentioned earlier, serving each other can turn a marriage around in a heartbeat.

What are some ways to put deposits in your spouse’s account?
1. Cut down on the withdrawals. If you know what actions or attitudes constitute withdrawals for your spouse, then stop these immediately. If you aren’t certain what they are, ask your spouse to list two or three withdrawals on a piece of paper, and then offer suggestions on ways you can stop the withdrawals.

2. Perform random acts of kindness. Think of something that you have done for your spouse in the past-something that made him or her feel good. Do it again and surprise your spouse. Think of something you may have intended to do but have not yet one. If you are the guy, make sure the action does not have sexual attachments. Consider offering your wife a night alone with the girls or a gift certificate for one to a local restaurant. Or gals, offer your husband a coupon for a round of golf, sex on a night other than the designated times, or take his car to have it washed. Notes, cards, and kind and flattering words go a long way also. These are all simple ways to make deposits in your spouse’s account.

3. Don’t expect return deposits. That’s not the idea. Maybe those reciprocal deposits will come, or maybe they won’t. You can’t focus on that, and you shouldn’t be keeping an account. If all you can think about is giving to get, then you really haven’t engaged in giving at all. Besides, your expectations may far exceed what your spouse is capable of that point in the process. Sure, you can suggest deposits…but don’t over-anticipate. Don’t let yourself become hurt or resentful if they fall below your desires. Simply embrace and celebrate the deposits as they come and continue to make daily deposits in your spouse’s account.

4. Be sure to acknowledge your spouse’s investments. If your husband or wife has taken the time and thought to make a direct deposit in your marriage account, be aware of it. Let your mate know how much the action or word meant to you. Really praise your spouse and reinforce the behavior so it will likely occur again. Men, especially, are like puppies, so reinforce the behaviors you want them to repeat.

5. Realize that withdrawals are a reality! No one can be around another human being for very long without making a withdrawal. Learn to accept the fact that your spouse is human and will make mistakes. Some little, and some not so little. Don’t question his or her integrity simply because he or she drew down their account. Don’t blow the situation out of proportion. Learn to choose your battles. Ask, “Is this something that’s really worth the energy to respond to?” and “Can I live with this mistake, especially in light of the fact that my spouse just made a deposit an hour ago?” Give each other permission to make occasional withdrawals, but commit to making at least three deposits for every withdrawal and watch your marriage become healthy and vibrant again.” (Pages 158-161)

You can get this book or the books that also refer the Love Bank concept, Love Busters or His Needs/Her Needs. Both of those books are by Dr. William Harley.

I love you guys!

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