If you are just joining us, you can review our opening post here.
Every interaction with another person involves additions and subtractions of units of love to and from an account with them in a love bank. It’s so obvious when you look at it that way, you wonder why you didn’t think of it first yourself. While the concept is brilliant and eerily accurate, I’ll admit that I find the term itself, “love bank,” a little hokey. I can’t really explain why, so I know it’s just me. Unfortunately I can’t think of any other analogy or metaphor to replace it with, so love bank it is.
Once again Harley shows us just how easy a friendship can turn to an affair with his example of a couple having trouble meeting the needs of each other. It is sad to read the account, and all I can think of when I read it is, “God, please don’t let it ever get anywhere close to that for me and Bethany.”
Over the years, I can look back at not just my own “Bethany account,” with the times she added and subtracted love units, but how I added into and subtracted out of her “Rob account.” And it makes me think about all the other people in my life, too, because these accounts are not just for marriage partners. I can clearly see how people subtracted too much out me, to the point where they were in the negative; I know I did that to others.
Obviously you don’t dwell on specific numbers (you don’t keep an actual ledger!), but rather have a general awareness of the bank’s existence. Even more important is that you know your spouses’ 5 basic emotional needs, so that your attempts to show love are heard and received (think: valid deposits). The reason for this awareness is due to the key sentence of this chapter: “If any of a spouse’s five basic emotional needs goes unmet, that spouse becomes vulnerable to the temptation of an affair.” That sounds scary (and it is), but meeting those needs doesn’t have to be an unbearable endeavor. You just have to be open to knowing what makes them feel loved the most, and then want to do it. Sure, you might be surprised to find out a couple of those needs, and it will be work. But of course it’s worth it.
And chances are, you already know what the needs are. I mean, you got married, right? Just do what you did to win them in the first place. Or, to put it another way, “The same thing it took to get your baby hooked, it’s gonna take the same thing to keep her.”
In this chapter the author introduces the concept of the love bank.
“…each of us has a Love Bank. It contains many different accounts, one for each person we know. Each person either makes deposits or withdrawals whenever we interact with him or her Pleasurable interactions cause deposits, and painful interactions cause withdrawals.”
In some ways it’s a very simple concept. Most people, at the time they get married, have quite a healthy balance in each other’s Love Bank accounts. During the early, especially pre-marriage or cohabitating days when you emphasize the good and minimize the bad, it is easy to make regular deposits into each other’s Love Bank’s. But the reality of day to day life together, forces there to be the occasional deposit. You disagree, you disappoint and annoy each other. These things are just part of life. But the danger comes when two things happen. You allow someone other than you spouse to build up as high a balance as your spouse and your relationships with your spouse produces more debits than credits on a regular basis. This is a recipe for disaster.
I’m not saying you should go through life walking on eggshells and trying never to upset your spouse. But I do think you need to be conscious of making sure you are regularly meeting your spouse’s emotional needs. When Rob’s emotional needs are being regularly met, I know he can absorb the regular difficulties that come our way. This becomes even more complicated when children are added to the equation.
The author closes this chapter with a difficult statement but I think it’s one we all need to hear.
“Should I be concerned about my spouse having an affair if I don’t meet her needs? Should my spouse fear that I might have an affair if my needs are not being met? In reference to the needs described in this book, answer yes.”
This was not easy for me to read. We all want to believe that there is no way it could ever happen to us. But the author’s point is that wherever there is an unmet need, there is a vulnerable area to temptation.
Starting next week we’ll begin covering the chapters where the author breaks down each emotional needs and helps us see the typical conflict between couples caused by different priorities between those needs.