Here’s another Stephen Covey post. It’s not that Dr. Covey said (in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) anything that I didn’t already know in some part of my being; it’s that he said things in a different way, one that spoke directly to my heart and mind. This morning when I walked in the dining room and saw a newly upholstered chair, Covey’s concept of the emotional bank account came to mind.
People in all sorts of relationships have emotional bank accounts whether it’s a friendship, a marriage, a love relationship, a parent-child relationship, or any other type of bond. Each individual has the opportunity to make various types of deposits, something that’s necessary because each person is sooner or later going to make some withdrawals. What each party needs to do is to make sure that deposits outweigh withdrawals. This concept is so simple that I can’t believe that I didn’t think of it myself.
Think for a moment about your checking account. I know more or less at any given moment about how much money I have in my account. Before I pay a huge bill, indulge in a new pair of shoes, or buy a shower gift, I need to know how much I can spend. If I spend more than I have in the account, I overdraw. Who wants that? I’m better at financial management now that I was when I was a younger person juggling the needs of a growing family, but there have been a few unpleasant moments when I overdrew and had to pay a big penalty. Paying overdraft fines is something I try to avoid, and I’m conscientious about the ratio of deposits to withdrawals.
Dr. Covey suggests applying this same principle to our relationships with others. DH and I have discussed this principle many times, and although he’s not that into psychology or “touchy-feely” issues, he likes this concept. In fact, he’ll often ask, “Am I overdrawn?” In case either of us feels underappreciated, we might say, “Did you notice that deposit?” “Does baking brownies count as a deposit?” “Did you notice that I picked up the pinecones, cleaned up the kitchen, or ironed your shirts? “ You’d think that people wouldn’t need reminders, but they do. In intimate relationships, people often tend to take each other for granted. At the same time, sometimes they’re quick to judge another’s shortcomings or flaws.
Lately DH has been spending a lot of time with his hunting cronies in the woods. Many afternoons and every Saturday can find him sitting in a deer stand waiting for Bambi. This past Sunday AFTER all day in the woods Saturday, he played golf with his brothers. I was beginning to feel a little neglected and asked him to pencil in some couple time for this upcoming weekend. He listened and then reminded me that we had spent a couple of hours selecting plants and trees for the yard Saturday after lunching together at Zaxby’s. “Doesn’t that count for something?” he asked. Yes, as a matter of fact it does, and he’s in no danger of overdrawing the account.
Yesterday, however, he made what I call a thousand dollar deposit. He recovered one of the two dining room chairs that I recently purchased at a thrift store. They’re the perfect accompaniment to the oak dining table and the four wasabi chairs that sit in our russet colored dining room. After unscrewing the seat of the chair, he placed it on a piece of fabric and cut the material a couple of inches larger. Next, he cut the foam to fit the chair seat bottom. Placing all three layers together and stretching the fabric as tightly as possible over the foam and chair bottom, he used his staple gun to secure the layers to each other. Using his drill, he then secured the chair bottom to the chair itself. Voila! The chair I’d been hiding in a corner now sits in a prime location and sports a lovely brown, green, and blue fabric stretched over some comfortable foam.
When he left for work this morning, I told him how much I appreciated his handiwork and added that I saw it as a major deposit. He looked at me with a slight smile and said he might go to the woods for a little while this afternoon. That’s cool. After all, his account is healthy. Now I’m wondering how mine looks.