This week Nan had a purchase declined on our credit card because of suspected fraudulent use of our account. Because we used our credit account to pay for funeral expenses we were also dangerously close to our credit limit. It was frustrating and annoying – and maybe a bit embarrassing because this had never happened to her before. (It turned out the bank was being overly cautious.)
As usual we will pay off the balance on our credit card at the end of the month. If we don’t there will be nothing to draw on when we want to use it again. In like manner we must invest in our relational resources as well and build up our line of emotional credit by paying into the account as well as drawing from it.
Have you ever had a relational transaction declined by your partner because you had exceeded your limit of grace and goodwill with them?
Unfortunately, just like irresponsible spenders, you may be tempted to try to raise your credit limit with your partner rather than do the hard work of caring for the relationship. We often do this by trying to convince, control or manipulate the feelings of our beloved. We may use shame or guilt, or playing the victim or martyr to achieve results. Are you always making excuses and apologizing? Eventually you will hit the absolute limit and your relationship will be in chaos.
So how do you build up your relational creditworthiness?
The key may be in knowing your partner’s love language (Gary Chapman). Which one is it?
· Quality time spent?
· Affection and physical touch?
· Words of affirmation?
· Gifts that show you know what they like?
· Acts of service?
You get a lot more mileage out of your efforts when you know what is important to your mate. Gifts don’t go as far with Nanas some of the others on the list. If you really don’t know then I suggest you ask them.
Also, being a person who keeps their word, maintains high integrity, can make sacrifices when necessary and shows kindness and responsibility will go a long way to replenishing your account. You might be late coming home one night, but if you do it frequently you will become overdrawn very quickly. You might lose your temper occasionally, but if you are an angry person you will soon find yourself alone.
Can you think of things easily that your partner will delight in? Do you follow through with acts of kindness? Do you believe it is better to give than receive? I have found that just like money, relational investments come back with interest when you invest with care. And just like monetary investments, you must continue adding on a regular basis if you want your relational wealth to grow substantially.
So, are you overdrawn? Go make a significant deposit into your “love bank” as soon as you can. And change your spending habits as well.