Family Bank of Honor

“Easy come, easy go” rings true, doesn’t it? We work hard to save money. We put a portion of every paycheck aside (when we can) and it collects a little (very little these days) interest. Then the furnace goes out, the hot water heater breaks, a fender bender necessitates a new rear
Family Bank of Honor bumper, or the kids outgrow their clothes. We dip into savings to meet that need and those deposits disappear. One withdrawal drains us of multiple deposits. Now that I think of it, “easy come, easy go” is only partially true. Perhaps it should read “hard to come, easy to go.”

At any rate, the principle of “easy come, easy go” holds true in the “Family Bank of Honor” as well. We rarely speak directly about this bank, but we act on it all the time. We make regular, daily deposits into the “Family Bank of Honor” by practicing daily acts of kindness, respect, grace, and celebration. Every time we listen and respond in love, we make a deposit into the “Family Bank of Honor.” When we speak to one another with kindness or give encouragement and praise, we make a deposit into the “Family Bank of Honor.” A hug, a kiss, or even a loving slap on the back, represents another deposit into the “Family Bank of Honor.” Sometimes, the deposits are obvious; other times, they are subtle and less clear, like honoring one another’s efforts to connect by responding with energy and attention. Whether obvious or not, we make multiple deposits each day into the “Family Bank of Honor.”  With each deposit, we enrich our relationships and accrue more emotional savings in the “Family Bank of Honor.”

Then the furnace breaks–an argument crops up, a misunderstanding flares, an irritable day turns into a nasty remark. You know the times. We all have times when we make withdrawals from the “Family Bank of Honor,” times when we act dishonorably. Unfortunately, that single withdrawal drains multiple deposits from the “Family Bank of Honor.” One heated disagreement, occurring on a day of irritation, drains our account. We remember the one dishonorable word spoken during a heated exchange more readily than the five sentences of praise spoken in moments of calm. Hopefully, we have made enough deposits of honor, both great and small, to maintain a positive balance in our “Family Bank of Honor.”

One marital researcher, John Gottman, reports that happy couples have at least five good exchanges for every one negative exchange during an argument. He also noted that “master couples” have as many as twenty positive experiences for every one negative experience when they are normally engaged. In other words, happy couples have at least five more positive feelings and interaction than unhappy couples, five to twenty deposits for every withdrawal. So, here is the basic two-step plan for investing in the “Family Bank of Honor:”

  1. Take every opportunity to make a deposit into the “Family Bank of Honor.” Every day, make as many deposits as possible.
  2. Focus on making deposit rather than worrying about withdrawals. Make five to twenty deposits for each withdrawal. When you do make a withdrawal, apologize. A sincere apology becomes a deposit that puts you back on the road toward accruing savings in the “Family Bank of Honor.”

With this ratio of deposits to withdrawal, we begin to build a home environment of honor. But, the question remains, exactly how do we make a deposit of honor? Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Listen to family members and accept their suggestions.
  • Keep family members’ in mind–their interests, desires, quirks, tender areas, and strengths.
  • Seek out ways to serve one another.
  • Sacrifice your own desires to do something that interests a family member.
  • Use kind and encouraging words.
  • Be polite