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If You Want A Happy Relationship, You Need To Treat It Like Your Bank Account

If You Want A Happy Relationship, You Need To Treat It Like Your Bank Account

While the formative years of a relationship are usually incredibly positive, it is hard to imagine any changes later on. As feelings change and relationships grow to take on greater responsibilities, it is easy to become mired in a cycle of negativity that overwhelms any feelings of passion and love that remain.

We have all experienced this. Initial feelings of passion and excitement slowly give way to sadness, apathy, and, in some instances, resentment. These feelings can create a relationship with more negative interactions than positive ones, which exacerbates the existing issues further and places an intolerable strain on each individual involved.

Why You Should Imagine Your Relationship as Though It Is a Bank Account

In order to understand this further, let’s consider another scenario where it is possible for negative transactions to outnumber positive ones. If you have a bank account, for example, you may have experienced periods where your outgoings and monthly payments are greater than your earnings during the same period. As you will know, such a scenario will leave you in the red, either trapped in a predetermined overdraft or indebted to the lender.

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This type of situation cannot continue indefinitely either, as a continued excess of negative transactions will eventually force you to foreclose on the account.

In order to avoid this, you must adopt a proactive approach to resolving the issue, while taking practical steps to build the number of positive transactions in the account and restoring a healthy balance. This requires courage and understanding, while it also encourages you to constantly work on your financial management and seek out creative methods of maintaining a positive balance.

The Golden Ratio: 5 Times More Positive Interactions Than Negative Ones

This is a principle that can be applied directly to your relationship, as research conducted by Dr. John Gottman underlines. His theory is based on the basic principle that the existence of ongoing and unresolvable issues within a relationship is perfectly normal and healthy, and that the key is to balance this with positive interactions.

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According to Gottman, the golden ratio for a healthy relationship is to experience at least five times more positive interactions than negative ones[1], as this creates a balance that can sustain a union even through testing times.

This is often referred to as a “relationship bank account”, where an excess of negative interactions and withdrawals (or conflicts) quickly drains any credit that exists and edges the union close to zero or the precipice of a break-up. If you are able to establish a healthier balance and the type of ratio referenced above, however, you can build the credit and level of sentiment within the relationship, creating a safety net that minimizes the impact of arguments and ensures that individual issues are kept in perspective.

How to Keep a Positive Balance of Your Relationship Bank Account

While this logic holds true, however, the question that remains is how can couples pursue such a healthy balance? The first step is to recognize the realities of human relationships, which dictate that conflict is inevitable and should be embraced as a key part of adult life. From there, it is easier to manage your relationship while seeking out opportunities to build positive interactions and memories.

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When it comes to forging positive interactions, it is crucial that you focus on your relationship and look to seek out shared passions and hobbies. This ensures that you spend quality time with one another, and ensures that you enjoy positive experiences and interactions that can quickly build credit between two individuals.

This requires effort and application on both sides, of course, while there should also be a willingness to set aside specific periods of time for such activity.

By managing your relationship as though it was a bank account and adhering to Dr. John Gottman’s golden ratio, you can create a positive and sustainable relationship that can survive even difficult periods of time. If you do need any more motivation to follow this path and invest time into cultivating such positive interactions, just consider the consequences of allowing negative interactions to build up and the permanent impact that this can have on relationships.

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Featured photo credit: Sunshine-D / Flickr via flickr.com

Reference

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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