• Dr Jodie Bradnam

Wired for connection

Every relationship has an emotional bank account - an invisible ratio of positive to negative exchanges. Healthy partnerships are in surplus, meaning that the moments of kindness, love affection, apology, awareness and appreciation far outweigh the moments of angst, criticism, irritation or invisibility. A positive account balance is built in tiny moments of connection. It is built in the little things we do for one another each day - the hug, the morning coffee, the text, the compliment, the lunch note. We can’t underestimate the value of this positive balance. It is the buffer that protects the relationship when life’s challenges present themselves.

Even when we are well aware of the emotional bank account, a sliding balance can catch us off guard. We get busy in our work and family roles, life responsibilities push us in different directions, and we let go of the daily rituals that once anchored our time together. As the account balance starts to fall, and the ratio of positive to negative exchanges lowers, minor irritations set in. We become impatient, less compassionate, more reactive and less attuned to our partners. These are the warning signs that call us to attention, prompt us to refocus on one another and give the partnership some quality time. When we ignore these signs, negativity descends. Minor arguments become fights and distance and loneliness creep in. Without meaning to, couples can go round in circles trying to exit this negative cycle. The further we let the account balance slide, the more time and attention we need to invest to find our way back to each other.

Relationships are a dance of intimacy, a push and pull of closeness and separateness. With an awareness of the emotional bank account, we can prioritise the little things each day that keep us connected. The quality of our lives reflects the quality of our relationships.

Attend. Attune. Connect. We are wired for it.