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Is this Love? (The Needs of a Partner)

WHAT HAPPENS TO LOVE AFTER THE WEDDING? The desire for romantic love
in marriage is deeply rooted in our psychological makeup. Why is it that so few
couples seem to have found the secret to keeping love alive after the wedding?
The answer to this question is the purpose of this study.
The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People
speak different love languages. In the area of linguistics, there are major
language groups. Most of us grow up learning the language of our parents and
siblings, which becomes our primary, or native, tongue. Later we may learn
additional languages but usually with much more effort. These become our
secondary languages. We speak, understand, and feel most comfortable speak￾ing our native language. If we speak only our primary language and encounter
someone else who speaks only his or her primary language, which is different
from ours, our communication will be limited. We can communicate, but it is
awkward. If we are to communicate effectively across cultural lines, we must
learn the language of those with whom we wish to communicate.
In the area of love, it is similar. Your emotional love language and the
language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No
matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands
only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other. You must be
willing to learn your spouse’s primary love language if you are to be an effective
communicator of love.
When it comes to expressing love to one another, I speak English and
my spouse speaks:
□ English—We understand each other’s expressions of love.
□ Spanish—I don’t fully understand my spouse, but I can pick up
a few love-phrases here and there.
□ Chinese—My spouse is trying to tell me something, but I have no
 idea what he or she is saying.
□ Martian—My spouse and I are on completely different planets.
My conclusion after 30 years of marriage counseling is that there are basically 5
emotional love languages—5 ways people speak and understand emotional love.
In the field of linguistics, a language may have numerous dialects or variations.
Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects.

The number of ways to express love within a love language is limited only by one’s
imagination. The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.
Seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love
language. We tend to speak our primary love language, and we become
confused when our spouses don’t understand what we are communicating. We
are expressing our love, but the message does not come through because we
are speaking what, to them, is a foreign language. Therein lies the fundamental
problem, and it is the purpose of this study to offer a solution.
Once we identify and learn to speak our spouse’s primary love language, we
will have discovered the key to a long-lasting, loving marriage. Love need not
evaporate after the wedding, but in order to keep it alive most of us will have to
put forth the effort to learn a secondary love language. We cannot rely on our
native tongue if our spouses don’t understand it. If we want them to feel the love
we are trying to communicate, we must express it in their primary love language.
Keeping the Love Tank Full
Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human
emotional need. Child psychologists affirm that every child has certain basic
emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionally stable. Among those
emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the
need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted. With an adequate supply
of affection, the child will likely develop into a responsible adult. Without that
love, he or she will be emotionally and socially retarded.
Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of chil￾dren and adolescents says, “Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to
be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but
when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior
of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’ ”
The emotional need for love is not simply a childhood phenomenon. That
need follows us into adulthood and into marriage. We needed love before we
“fell in love,” and we will need it as long as we live. The purpose of this study is
to focus on the kind of love that is essential to our emotional health.
Could it be that deep inside hurting couples exists an invisible “emotional
love tank” with its gauge on empty? Could the misbehavior, withdrawal, harsh
words, and critical spirit occur because of that empty tank? If we could find a
way to fill it, could the marriage be reborn? With a full tank would couples be
able to create an emotional climate where it is possible to discuss differences
and resolve conflicts? Could that tank be the key that makes marriage work?
I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a
marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile. Running your
marriage on an empty love tank may cost you even more than trying to drive
your car without oil. What you are about to read has the potential of saving
thousands of marriages and can even enhance the emotional climate of a good
marriage. Whatever the quality of your marriage now, it can always be better.
Below are two love tanks. Draw a needle on your love tank to signify how
much your craving for love is being fulfilled by your spouse. Draw a needle
on your spouse’s love tank to signify how well you think you are fulfilling
his or her need to be loved.
Compare your responses with your spouse’s responses. Ask God to use this
study to help you and your spouse fill each others’ love tanks to full and
overflowing.

Words of Affirmation
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Verbal appreciation speaks powerfully to persons whose primary love language
is words of affirmation. Simple statements such as, “You look great in that suit.”
or “You must be the best baker in the world! I love your oatmeal cookies.” are
sometimes all a person needs to hear to feel loved. Another way to communi￾cate through words of affirmation is to offer encouragement.
Quality Time
Quality time is more than mere proximity. It’s about focusing all your energy on
your mate. A husband watching sports while talking to his wife is not spending
quality time with her. Unless all of your attention is focused on your mate, even
an intimate dinner for two can come and go without a minute of quality time
being shared.
Quality conversation is very important to a healthy relationship. It involves
sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted
context. Quality activities are also a very important part of quality time. Many
mates feel most loved when they spend physical time together, doing activities
they love to do.
Receiving Gifts
Some individuals respond well to visual symbols of love. If you speak this love
language, you are more likely to treasure any gift as an expression of love and
devotion. People who speak this love language often feel that a lack of gifts
represents a lack of love from their mate. Luckily, this love language is one of
the easiest to learn.
These gifts need not come every day or even every week. They don’t even
need to cost a lot of money. Free, frequent, expensive, or rare, if your mate
relates to the language of receiving gifts, any visible sign of your love will leave
your spouse feeling happy and secure in your relationship

Acts of Service
Sometimes doing simple chores around the house can be an undeniable expres￾sion of love. Even simple things like laundry and taking out the trash require
some form of planning, time, effort, and energy. Just as Jesus demonstrated
when He washed the feet of His disciples, doing humble chores can be a very
powerful expression of love and devotion to your mate.
Even when couples help each other around the house, they may still fight
because they are unknowingly communicating with each other in two different
dialects. It is important to learn your mate’s dialect and to work hard to under￾stand what acts of service will show your love.
Physical Touch
Many mates feel the most loved when they receive physical contact from their
partner. For a mate who speaks this love language loudly, physical touch can
make or break the relationship.
Sexual intercourse makes many mates feel secure and loved in a marriage.
However, it is only one dialect of physical touch. It is important to learn how
your mate speaks the physical touch language. Take the time to learn the
touches your mate likes. They can be big acts, such as back massages or love￾making, or little acts such as touches on the cheek or a hand on the shoulder.
It’s important to learn how your mate responds to touch. That is how you will
make the most of this love language.
Discovering Your Primary
Lov Languag
Discovering the primary love language of your spouse is essential if you are to
keep his or her emotional love tank full. But first you need to discover your own
love language. Having heard the five emotional love languages, some individu￾als will know instantaneously their own primary love language and that of their
spouse. For others, it will not be that easy. Several methods can be used to help
determine your love language as well as the love language of your spouse.

Ask Key Questions
What Makes Me Feel Most Loved By My Spouse?
What do you desire above all else? If the answer does not leap to your mind
immediately, perhaps it will help to look at the negative use of love languages.
What does your spouse do or say or fail to do or say that hurts you deeply? If
your deepest pain is the critical, judgmental words of your spouse, then perhaps
your love language is words of affirmation. If your primary love language is
used negatively by your spouse—that is, he does the opposite—it will hurt
you more deeply because not only is he neglecting to speak your primary love
language, he is actually using that language as a knife to your heart.
What Have I Most Often Requested of My Spouse?
Whatever you have most requested is probably in keeping with your primary
love language. Those requests may have been interpreted by your spouse as
nagging. They have been, in fact, your efforts to secure emotional love from
your spouse.
How Do I Express Love to My Spouse?
Chances are what you are doing for her is what you wish she would do for you.
If you are constantly doing acts of service for your spouse, perhaps (although
not always) that is your love language. If words of affirmation speak love to you,
chances are you will use them in speaking love to your spouse.
But remember, that approach is only a possible clue to your love language;
it is not an absolute indicator. For example, the husband who learned from his
father to express love to his wife by giving her nice gifts expresses his love to
his wife by doing what his father did, yet receiving gifts is not his primary love
language. He is simply doing what he was trained to do by his father.

Love Is a Choice
If our spouses have learned to speak our primary love language, our need for
love will continue to be satisfied. If, on the other hand, they don’t speak our
love language, our tanks will slowly drain and we will no longer feel loved.
Meeting my wife’s need for love is a choice I make each day. If I know her
primary love language and choose to speak it, her deepest emotional need
will be met and she will feel secure in my love. If she does the same for me, my
emotional needs are met and both of us live with full love tanks.
Perhaps you are thinking, What if the love language of my spouse is some￾thing that doesn’t come naturally for me? I am often asked this question at my
marriage seminars, and my answer is, “So?”
My wife’s love language is acts of service. One of the things I do for her
regularly as an act of love is to vacuum the floors. Do you think vacuuming
floors comes naturally for me? My mother used to make me vacuum. I couldn’t
go play ball on Saturday until I finished vacuuming the entire house. In those
days I said to myself, When I get out of here, I am not going to vacuum houses.
I’ll get myself a wife to do that.
But I vacuum our house now. And there is only one reason. Love. You
couldn’t pay me enough to vacuum a house, but I do it for love. When an action
doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love. Ultimately,
comfort is not the issue. We are talking about love, and love is something you
do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. Love is a choice.
Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love. That is why the
ancient biblical writings spoke of the husband and wife becoming “one flesh.”
That did not mean that individuals would lose their identity; it meant that they
would enter into each other’s lives in a deep and intimate way. The New Testa￾ment writers challenged both the husband and the wife to love each other. From
Plato to Peck, writers have emphasized the importance of love in marriage.
Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devas￾tating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the
cruelest of punishments. At the heart of mankind’s existence is the desire to be
intimate and to be loved by another.

You may think you already know your primary love language. Then again, you
may have no clue. The Five Love Languages Profile will help you know for
certain which love language is yours.
Using these approaches will enable you to determine your primary love language.
If two languages seem to be equal for you, that is, both speak loudly to you, then
perhaps you are bilingual. If so, you make it easier on your spouse. He or she has
two choices, either of which will strongly communicate love to you.
Two kinds of people may have difficulty discovering their primary love language.
The first is the individual whose emotional love tank has been full for a long time.
Her spouse has expressed love in many ways, and she is not certain which of
those ways makes her feel most loved. She simply knows she is loved. The second
is the individual whose love tank has been empty for so long that he doesn’t
remember what makes him feel loved. In either case, go back to the experience of
falling in love and ask yourself, “What did I like about my spouse in those days?
What did he do or say that made me desire to be with him?” If you can conjure
up those memories, it will give you some idea of your primary love language.
Another approach would be to ask yourself, “What would be an ideal spouse to
me? If I could have the perfect mate, what would she be like?” Your picture of a
perfect mate should give you some idea of your primary love language.


Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, or
Physical Touch? Which of these is your primary love language? The following
profile will help you know for sure. Then you and your spouse can discuss your
respective love languages and use this information to improve your marriage!
The profile consists of 30 pairs of statements. You can only pick one statement
in each pair as the one that best represents your desire. Read each pair of state￾ments and then circle the letter that matches the statement you choose. It may
be tough at times to decide between two statements, but you should only choose
one per pair to ensure the most accurate profile results. Once you’ve finished
making your selections, go back and count the number of times you circled
each individual letter. List the results in the appropriate spaces at the end of the
profile. Your primary love language is the one that receives the most points.
Take the profile when you are relaxed and not pressed for time. Do not take
the profile immediately after a disagreement with your spouse. Choose a time
when you are in a fairly good mood and have a sincere desire to learn something
about yourself which may enhance the emotional climate of your marriage.

Your primary love language is the one that received the highest score. You are
“bilingual” and have two primary love languages if point totals are equal for
any two love languages. If your second highest scoring love language is close
in score but not equal to your primary love language, then this simply means
both expressions of love are important to you. The highest possible score for
any one love language is 12.
You may have scored certain love languages more highly than others, but do not
dismiss those other languages as insignificant. Your spouse may express love in
those ways, and it will be helpful to you to understand this about him or her. In
the same way, it will benefit your spouse to know your love language and express
affection for you in ways you interpret as love. Every time you or your spouse
speak each other’s language, you score emotional points with one another. Of
course, this isn’t a game with a scorecard! The payoff of speaking each other’s
love language is a greater sense of connection. This translates into better commu￾nication, increased understanding, and, ultimately, improved romance.
Please take note;
When a man and woman marry, they
share high expectations. They commit
themselves to meeting certain intense
and intimate needs in each other on an
exclusive basis. Each agrees to “forsake
all others,” giving each other the
exclusive right to meet these intimate
needs. That does not imply that all needs
are to be met by a spouse, but that there
are a few basic needs that most of us
strictly reserve for the marriage bond.
Most people expect their spouse to meet
these special needs, since they have
agreed not to allow anyone else to meet
them.
For example, when a man agrees to an
exclusive relationship with his wife, he
depends on her to meet his sexual need.
If she fulfills this need, he finds in her a
continuing source of intense pleasure,
and his love grows stronger. However,
if his need goes unmet, quite the opposite
happens. He begins to associate her with
frustration. If the frustration continues, he
may decide she “just doesn’t like sex”
and he may try to make the best of it. But
his strong need for sex remainsexclusive sexual relationship with his
wife has left him with the choice of
sexual frustration or infidelity. Some
men never give in; they manage to make
the best of it over the years. But many do
succumb to the temptation of an affair. I
have talked to hundreds of them in my
counseling offices.
Another example is a wife who gives
her husband the exclusive right to meet
her need for intimate conversation.
Whenever they talk together with a depth
of honesty and openness not found in
conversation with others, she finds him
to be the source of her greatest pleasure.
But when he refuses to give her the
undivided attention she craves, he
unfulfilled. His commitment to an exclusive sexual relationship with his
wife has left him with the choice of
sexual frustration or infidelity. Some
men never give in; they manage to make
the best of it over the years. But many do
succumb to the temptation of an affair. I
have talked to hundreds of them in my
counseling offices.
Another example is a wife who gives
her husband the exclusive right to meet
her need for intimate conversation.
Whenever they talk together with a depth
of honesty and openness not found in
conversation with others, she finds him
to be the source of her greatest pleasure.
But when he refuses to give her the
undivided attention she craves, he becomes associated with her greatest
frustration. Some women simply go
through their married lives frustrated, but
others cannot resist the temptation to let
someone else meet this important
emotional need. And when they do, an
affair is the likely outcome.
His Needs Are Not Hers
When a husband and wife come to me
for counsel, my first goal is to help them
identify their most important emotional
needs—what each of them can do for
each other to make them happiest and
most content. Over the years, I have repeatedly asked the question, “What
could your spouse do for you that would
make you the happiest?” I’ve been able
to classify most of their responses into
ten emotional needs—admiration,
affection, conversation, domestic
support, family commitment, financial
support, honesty and openness, physical
attractiveness, recreational
companionship, and sexual fulfillment.
Obviously the way to keep a husband
and wife happily married is for each of
them to meet the needs that are most
important to the other. But when I
conducted all these interviews, I
discovered the reason this is such a
difficult assignment. Nearly every time I asked couples to list their needs
according to their priority, men listed
them one way and women the opposite
way. Of the ten basic emotional needs,
the five listed as most important by men
were usually the five least important for
women, and vice versa.
What an insight! No wonder husbands
and wives have so much difficulty
meeting each other’s needs. They are
willing to do for each other what they
appreciate the most, but it turns out that
their efforts are misdirected because
what they appreciate most, their spouses
appreciate least!
 Every person is unique.
While men on the average pick a
particular five emotional needs as their
most important and women on the
average pick another five, any
individual can and does pick any
combination of the basic ten. So although
I have identified the most important
emotional needs of the average man and
woman, I don’t know the emotional
needs of any particular husband and
wife. And since I’m in the business of
saving individual marriages, not average
marriages, you should identify the
combinations of needs that are unique to
your marriage. Often the failure of husbands and
wives to meet each other’s emotional
needs is simply due to ignorance of each
other’s needs and not selfish
unwillingness to be considerate. By
learning to understand yourself and your
spouse as totally unique people with
particular emotional needs, you can
identify your needs and communicate
them to each other.
After each other’s five most important
emotional needs have been identified,
the next step is to become an expert in
meeting your spouse’s needs. That
doesn’t mean painfully gritting your teeth
and making the best of something you
hate. One spouse should never suffer to
meet the emotional needs of the other.
Instead, it means learning how to enjoy
meeting emotional needs that are low on
your list of priorities. In each chapter of
this book, I’ll offer suggestions as to
how that objective can be achieved.
When spouses fail to meet each
other’s most important emotional needs,
I have seen, strikingly and alarmingly,
how they tend to choose the same pattern
to satisfy their unmet needs: the
extramarital affair. People wander into affairs with astonishing regularity, in
spite of whatever strong moral or
religious convictions they may hold.
Why? When a spouse lacks fulfillment of
any of the basic needs, it creates a thirst
that must be quenched. If changes do not
take place within the marriage to care
for that need, the individual will face the
powerful temptation to fill it outside of
marriage.
If we are to make our marriages
affair-proof, we cannot hide our heads in
the sand. The spouse who believes his or
her partner is “different” and, despite
unmet needs, would never take part in an
affair may receive a devastating shock
someday. Instead, we need to understand the warning signs that an affair could
happen, how such liaisons may begin,
and how to strengthen the weak areas of
a marriage in the face of such a
relationship.
What Is an Affair?
Usually an affair consists of two people
who become involved in an extramarital
relationship that combines sexual
lovemaking with feelings of deep love.
However, it is possible to have an affair
that involves only lovemaking or only
the feeling of love toward someone
outside of marriage. Although these
types of affairs may also cause deep
problems in marriage, my experience
shows that they are more easily dealt
with than the relationship that combines
sex (usually very passionate sex) with
the feeling of love. That relationship
threatens the marriage to its core,
because the lovers experience deep
intimacy, and the affair meets at least
one of the five most important emotional
needs of the spouse outside the exclusive
marital relationship. When one spouse
discovers the other has broken the
commitment of faithfulness, the marriage
is shattered.
How Affairs Usually Start?
An affair usually begins as a
friendship. Your spouse may know the
person who eventually becomes your
lover as the husband or wife in a couple
you consider “best friends.” Or your
lover may be someone you have met at
work, church, or a community function.
Conversation draws you together. At
first you talk about various topics of
interest, but over time you begin to share
personal problems with each other. As
you spend more time together, you
discuss more intimate problems, and
eventually the problems you discuss
reflect unmet emotional needs. As your
friendship deepens, you start giving each
other mutual support and encouragement
especially in regard to your unmet needs.
Life is difficult. Many people become
extremely disillusioned about the way
their lives are turning out. When they
find someone encouraging and
supportive, the attraction toward that
person acts as a powerful magnet.
Sooner or later, you find yourself in bed
with your encouraging and supportive
friend. It just seems to “happen.” You
don’t intend to do it, and neither does
your friend.
Very often the friendship that grows
into an affair is very illogical. A wife
will get a look at her husband’s lover
and exclaim, “How in the world could
he be interested in her?” When a husband discovers his wife’s lover, he
wonders, “What could she be thinking?”
But the attraction is not logical; it’s
emotional. Based on the facts, the
relationship stands no chance of
succeeding, and very rarely does. What
matters at the moment, however, is that
the lover has been able to meet an
unfulfilled need. He or she is regarded
as the most caring person the wayward
spouse has ever met, and a reciprocal
desire to care for the lover is felt very
deeply.
When you become involved in an
affair, you and your lover seem to have
an unconditional willingness to meet
each other’s emotional needs. This
mutual desire to bring each other
happiness at all costs builds an affair
into one of the most satisfying and
intimate relationships either of you have
ever known. You respond sexually with
ease and passion. You feel sure that no
one else could ever be as exciting a
partner as your new secret lover.
As the intensity of your mutual care
and passion increases, you discover that
you are caught in a trap of your own
making. You lose all sense of judgment
as you literally become addicted to each
other in a relationship built on fantasy,
not reality.
But as I mentioned earlier, the
relationship is not logical; it’s emotional. It’s a fantasy. As you and
your lover plan where and when to meet
for passionate sessions of lovemaking,
you leave the realities of everyday living
behind.
It Could Happen to You
As I’ve discussed affairs and how
they start, I may have offended you, at
least a little bit, by using the second￾person pronoun. But I used you for a
specific reason. While most people
would deny they could ever get involved
in an affair, the hard truth is that, under
certain conditions, any of us can fall
victim.
It isn’t particularly immoral people who fall into an affair. On the contrary,
very normal men and women may get
involved through a deceptively simple
process. First, you let someone outside
of marriage meet one of your most
important emotional needs, say, intimate
conversation. You may feel that there’s
no problem just talking to someone,
especially if your own spouse doesn’t
seem interested in the problems you
face.
Next, you find this friend to be
particularly concerned for your welfare,
and you begin to feel the same way
toward your friend. The conversation
turns to affection—the expression of
care for each other.
From there, you begin to explain to
each other what you need most in life,
and you both express a desire to meet
those needs for each other. The
lovemaking that results seems so
effortless and so natural that you believe
you were made for each other. You think
you’ve found your soul mate.
In some cases the process may take
only a few weeks; in other cases it will
take many years. But it happens with
astonishing regularity. I have seen it
happening in the lives of thousands of
couples throughout my career. Sadly
enough, it seems to make little difference
what a person professes by way of
religious commitment or moral values.
Often, in my early years as a
counselor, I felt dismayed to see people
with strong religious and moral
commitments becoming involved in
extramarital affairs. I am a church
member myself, with strong convictions
about the Christian faith. How could
people who claim to have the same
commitments go astray? Did their faith
lack power?
But the more I dealt with unfaithful
Christian clients and other people with
deep moral convictions, the more I
understood the power of our basic
emotional needs. I came to see my own
weaknesses and the strength of my own
needs.

Bank Never Closes
Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize
what we’re getting into when we say, “I
do.” We think the dynamics of a good
marriage depend on some mysterious
blend of the “right” people. Or if a
marriage turns out badly, we call the two
people “wrong” for each other. While
it’s true that two inherently incompatible
people might marry, it’s unusual. More
frequently, marital breakups occur when
one or both partners lack the skills or
awareness to meet each other’s
emotional needs. More often than not,
being right or wrong for someone
depends not on some mysterious
compatibility quotient, but on how
willing and able you are to meet that
someone’s needs.
What, then, if you are willing but
unable or unskilled? Good news! You
can do something about it. Retraining is
possible at any time. For this reason I
believe marriages that have been
torpedoed by affairs need not sink. They
can be towed into dry dock, repaired,
and refitted. Once refitted, they will sail
farther and faster than at any previous
time.
But my ultimate goal is not salvaging
marriages that have gone on the rocks of
an affair. I reach well beyond that. I
want to show you how to affair-proof
your marriage by building a relationship
that sustains romance and increases
intimacy and closeness year after year.
To make your marriage affair-proof, you
need to know each other’s basic needs
and how to meet them. But first, I want to
help you understand how needs become
so powerful and all-consuming. As I
said in the first chapter, needs keep
score with relentless precision. To help
my clients understand how this
scorekeeping works, I have invented a
concept that I call the Love Bank.

Everyone Has a Love Bank
Figuratively speaking, I believe each of
us has a Love Bank. It contains many
different accounts, one for each person
we know. Each person makes either
deposits or withdrawals whenever we
interact with him or her. Pleasurable
interactions cause deposits, and painful
interactions cause withdrawals.
In my Love Bank system every deposit
or withdrawal is worth a certain number
of love units. If I meet a friend (we’ll
call him Jim), and the encounter leaves
me feeling comfortable, 1 or 2 love units
will be deposited in his account in my
Love Bank. If the interchange makes me
feel good, Jim’s deposit in my bank may
be 5 love units. Very good gets up to 10.
But if he makes me feel exceptionally
good the sky’s the limit—20 or more can
be deposited during one encounter.
Suppose, however, that I find myself
feeling uncomfortable when I am with
someone; we’ll call her Jane. One or 2
love units are withdrawn from Jane’s
account. If she makes me feel bad, 5
units may be withdrawn. Very bad
warrants a 10-unit withdrawal. If I
consider my encounter with Jane among
the worst experiences of my life, it may
cost her a 20-unit withdrawal or more.
As life goes on, the accounts in my
Love Bank fluctuate. Some of my acquaintances build sizable deposits.
Others remain in the black but have
small balances, perhaps because of
fewer interactions with me. A third
group builds up still smaller balances
because my experiences with them are
mixed—sometimes pleasant, sometimes
painful. For these people, deposits
almost equal withdrawals.
Other people go into the red with me.
That means they cause me more pain than
pleasure. I never feel good when I think
of them and I do not want to see them or
be with them. In short, their accounts in
my Love Bank are overdrawn.

A Love Bank Love Story
Obviously, the Love Bank is not
intended to be a mathematically accurate
concept. It is simply designed to
underscore the fact that we affect each
other emotionally with almost every
encounter. The accumulation of positive
and negative experiences determines our
emotional reaction to those we know.
You are not actively aware of any of
this, of course. You don’t say to
yourself, Wow, that was a 15-unit
deposit! or, Ugh! Minus 20 units for
him. Nonetheless, the love units keep
coming in or going out.
Two Love Banks constantly operate in marriage: his and hers. Let’s take a look
at the story of John and Mary to see what
can happen when a wife’s account in her
husband’s Love Bank takes a huge dip
and there is an understanding woman
waiting in the wings down at hubby’s
office. In this example, we will
concentrate on John’s Love Bank,
because he winds up having the affair.
When John meets Mary, he
immediately feels something special.
Not only is she beautiful, but she is
charming, intelligent, and full of life.
John’s Love Bank instantly credits her
account with 15 units.
A day or two later John calls Mary
and asks her for a date. She accepts, and as John hangs up, 10 more units go into
Mary’s account.
On the date they have a fabulous time.
John rates it as one of the best
experiences of his life. Twenty more
units added to Mary’s account bring her
balance to 45 love units. A second date
is almost as good, and she gets 15 more
love units, bringing the balance to 60.
But the next time John calls Mary for a
date, she has to turn him down. She says
she is truly sorry but she has a
commitment she set up many weeks ago.
She quickly adds that she is free the next
night, if John would be interested. John
is indeed interested and arranges to pick
her up for dinner about eight o’clock.
What happens to Mary’s account in
John’s Love Bank as a result of this
slightly negative encounter?
She definitely sounded sorry she
can’t go out with me tonight, John
muses. I can’t expect her to be
available just any time. Besides, she
did suggest that we go out tomorrow
night. I’m sure she really likes me . . .
No matter how much John tries to
reassure himself, the experience still
leaves him feeling slightly
uncomfortable. Mary’s account in John’s
Love Bank is debited 1 unit.
Over the next few months John and
Mary date regularly and often. The good
and fabulous experiences far outnumber
the occasional negative ones, and
Mary’s balance soon stands at 500 love
units. Only Sarah, an old flame whom
John broke off with more than a year
ago, had ever accumulated more units in
John’s Love Bank. John begins to
believe he is falling in love with Mary.
After six more months, Mary’s
balance stands at 1,000 love units, an
all-time high total for any woman in
John’s life, well in excess of Sarah’s
score. At this point John feels he has
never loved anyone as much as he loves
Mary. He tells her she is the most
attractive, intelligent, sensitive,
charming, and delightful woman he has
ever met.
   Mary appeals to John so because of
her balance in his Love Bank. He
associates her with many positive—even
fabulous—emotional experiences and
only a few negative ones. John looks
forward to each date with Mary, and his
mind dwells on her when they are apart.
He begins to wonder what he would do
if he ever lost Mary. He can’t imagine
going through the rest of his life without
her.
With Mary at my side, I wouldn’t
need anything or anyone else to be
happy, John tells himself. Vivid thoughts
of marriage form in his mind.
Meanwhile, John’s account in Mary’s
Love Bank has grown steadily, but not at
quite the same pace. When they met,
Mary found John quite attractive. The
first dates were very good experiences,
and at this point she feels quite fond of
him, but she still isn’t sure. Mary
remembers Bob and how much she liked
him before he had broken off with her to
marry an old friend from high school.
On their next date Mary abruptly tells
John she needs a little breathing room.
She suggests that they suspend their
dating for a month or so and wonders if
they shouldn’t date other people during
that time.
John feels devastated. This encounter
registers as one of the all-time painful
experiences of his life. Thirty units quickly come out of Mary’s hefty
account. A few days later John calls
Mary and tries to convince her to change
her mind, but she remains resolute. John
tries calling back several times over the
next week. Mary stands fast, and before
John decides to leave her alone for a
month, debits in Mary’s account total
200.
John spends the month feeling
miserable. He remains deeply in love
with Mary, whose balance in his Love
Bank still stands high at 800 units. John
tries to date several other women, but
they do not stand a chance. Because he is
so crazy about Mary, he finds dating
anyone else a negative experience.
Through no fault of their own, all of
John’s dates accumulate nothing but
debits in their accounts.
At the end of a month, John calls
Mary. Her balance has remained at 800,
because, while he has pined for her,
there have been no further negative
experiences to cause any more
withdrawals. John feels ecstatic when
Mary tells him that she has missed him
terribly and accepts his invitation to go
out the very next evening. All she
needed, she says, was time to think
things through and see clearly how she
feels.
The first date after the monthlong
separation is a memorable experience.
   Subsequent dates seem better than ever.
At the end of the year, Mary’s balance in
John’s Love Bank has risen to 2,000
units. At the same time, John’s account in
Mary’s Love Bank has risen steadily and
is at an all-time high of 1,100 units. John
has eclipsed Bob in every way, and
Mary also thinks of wedding bells.
One night, after dinner at their favorite
restaurant, John proposes marriage. He
tells Mary he wants to live his life for
her happiness and assures her that if she
will marry him, he will never do
anything to hurt her. She accepts his
proposal, and after a brief engagement,
they become man and wife.

Beyond the Honeymoon
The first year of John and Mary’s
marriage is an extremely happy one.
Without really thinking about it, they
meet each other’s basic needs quite
well. John remains affectionate, patient,
and as caring as he was when they dated.
Mary responds passionately during
lovemaking. They spend considerable
time together and share their hopes and
dreams in long conversations. Mary
takes tennis lessons so she can keep up
with John in his favorite recreational
pastime.
Mary knows she can trust John
because he is so honest in everything.
John is proud of his attractive wife and feels particularly pleased with how she
handles details around the house while
still keeping her secretarial job on a
part-time basis. John earns an excellent
income as a computer analyst, but he and
Mary have agreed she should work as
much as she likes, at least for the
present.
Mary feels secure with John, who
gives every indication he loves being
settled down with a home and family.
She is proud of her husband and often
tells him so.
During their first year of married
bliss, what happens to the balances in
each partner’s Love Bank? Interestingly
enough, John and Mary do not accumulate points at the rate they did
before the marriage, mainly because they
share a much wider variety of
experiences than they had while dating.
Now they are together when they feel
good and when they feel bad. Credits
and debits in their Love Bank accounts
are being posted in accordance with the
ups and downs of life.
In spite of the reduced rate of
accumulation, Mary’s balance in John’s
Love Bank still increases. At the end of
their first year of marriage, her net gain
from the previous year adds up to 100
units. That brings her overall total to
2,100. Approximately the same pattern
holds true for John—his account increases to 1,200. During the next four
years, accounts in both Love Banks
continue to rise.
On their fifth anniversary, John still
feels madly in love with Mary, and she
feels the same about him. They decide to
start a family, and little Tiffany arrives
as they start their sixth year of marriage.
Critical changes start taking place in
that sixth year. Mary is still the joy of
John’s life, but he notices an increase in
his “down times.” While Tiffany is a
little doll and John loves her dearly, she
creates new demands and negative
experiences. Taking his turn to change
baby’s diaper in the middle of the night
is not John’s idea of a pleasant time.
Also Mary’s decision not to nurse
Tiffany leaves John with his share of
responsibilities to walk with her and
hold the bottle. In addition, Mary has a
tough time losing the weight she gained
while she was pregnant.
As a net result of all these common
little annoyances, Mary’s balance in
John’s Love Bank drops by 100 units
over the year. The loss is not that
significant—yet. Mary’s balance still
remains very high, and John feels deeply
in love with her.
But around the time of Tiffany’s
second birthday, Mary gets restless. She
wants to be more than just a part-time
secretary. She wants to have a more important career and doesn’t want to
wait until all of her children are grown
and gone. She asks John if he would
object if she returned to college, finished
her bachelor’s degree, and possibly
went on for a master’s in business
administration.
“It will take six years of classes,”
Mary explains, “but I’ll quit my part￾time job so I can concentrate on the baby
during the day and take most of the
classes in the evening.”
John agrees enthusiastically with her
idea. His income is solid and stable, and
they don’t really need Mary’s paycheck.
He offers to babysit for Mary while she
is at school and when she needs time on
occasion to finish homework
assignments.
Enter Noreen
Mary enrolls in classes and soon
earns excellent grades. But those grades
require sacrifice—and John’s not too
happy about it all. What bothers him
most is that Mary rarely seems in the
mood to make love. John understands her
dilemma. School consumes a lot of
energy, and what is left must be devoted
to housekeeping and caring for Tiffany.
By bedtime Mary feels exhausted, and
John realizes that to insist on making
love under those conditions would be
inconsiderate.
John makes the best of it with less
frequent and more hurried lovemaking
when he finds Mary in the mood, but he
also misses the attention she used to give
him and the tennis games they always
played on Saturday mornings. Now Mary
seldom spends time with him, much less
plays tennis on Saturdays. Instead, on the
weekends, she always does the
housework and catches up on homework
assigned for Monday classes.
John and Mary continue in this pattern
for the next two years. Mary’s account in
John’s Love Bank drops slowly but
steadily. John begins wondering what
happened to the lovely and interesting
creature he married. She seems lost in her books but never wants to discuss any
of her classes with him. “It’s all stuff
you had years ago,” Mary tells him.
“Besides, you’re a math expert, and I’m
not taking that much math.”
Note that John’s account in Mary’s
Love Bank holds steady, because John is
helping to meet a very special need in
her life right now—getting an education.
Mary realizes they haven’t spent much
time together but she deeply appreciates
all John’s sacrifices and his apparent
total commitment to his family. Things
will be better as soon as I get my
degree, she tells herself. So Mary
plunges on into academia, not quite
realizing how her husband feels.
Meanwhile at work John spends more
and more time with Noreen, an attractive
product manager. The company transfers
her to his department, and they start
working together on a regular basis.
When Noreen’s husband leaves her for
another woman, John tries to give her as
much comfort and support as he can.
Over the months John’s friendship with
Noreen deepens daily, and she soon has
a few hundred units deposited in John’s
Love Bank.
Noreen makes deposits when they talk
together at coffee and at other opportune
moments. John has no qualms about
sharing the good and the bad experiences
of his life with Noreen. Their conversations sometimes remind him of
the “old days” with Mary. So when John
starts feeling frustrated due to Mary’s
lack of time for sex (or anything else but
studying, it seems), he shares his
frustration with Noreen and finds her
quite sympathetic. In fact Noreen lets
John know that since her divorce she
feels sexually frustrated too.
The weeks and months fly by, and
Mary finishes her bachelor’s degree and
launches into her master’s program.
“Only two more years and it’s over,” she
tells John. “You’ve been wonderful to
back me up like this.”
John smiles and says he has been glad
to do it, but inside he feels something else.
“She’s just so wrapped up in that
degree she can’t think of anything else,”
John tells Noreen at coffee the next day.
“I want her to have it but I’m wondering
if the price has been too much to pay.”
A few weeks later, Mary is
particularly overwhelmed with studying
for mid-term exams. At the same time,
John gets hit with a special project that
forces him into a great deal of overtime,
and Noreen is working with him. One
night as John and Noreen work late,
alone, it happens. One moment John is
telling Noreen about how lonely he
feels. The next moment she is in his
arms, and they are making love.
When it’s over and they are getting
ready to go home for the night, John is
visibly agitated and guilt ridden. Noreen
senses his feelings and tells him she
doesn’t want to wreck his marriage or
come between him and Mary. “Look,”
she says, “I have to be honest. I’ve fallen
in love with you and I want to make you
happy. Why don’t we just make love
together when we can? That’s all I
want.”
An Unexpected Dilemma
On his way home John decides he
doesn’t feel so guilty after all. In fact he
starts feeling elated. Through no fault of
her own, Mary is unable at present to meet his sexual needs. Now Noreen
wants nothing more than to fill in as a
temporary sexual partner. Why not let
her, since it is helping meet her needs
too? John rationalizes. It will all be
temporary of course—until Mary is
finished with school and can have more
energy for sex. Whatever guilt John
feels he quickly quashes with a thought
of his unfulfilled needs. From that time
on, John and Noreen make love at least
once a week and sometimes more often.
In less than a year, Noreen’s account in
John’s Love Bank jumps to 1,000 units,
and Mary’s has dropped to 1,000. He’s
in love with both women.relationship with Mary improves a great
deal. They include little Tiffany in
everything they do together and make a
special effort to enjoy family outings.
When Mary has a brief break from
studies and wants to make love, John is
an enthusiastic partner. Those moments,
unfortunately, do not happen very often.
Meanwhile John and Noreen work out
their weekly rendezvous like a science.
He never gives the morality of the
situation a second thought. The huge
project John has taken on has continued
to demand overtime, and Mary never
suspects a thing.
Actually Mary would have never
known Noreen existed if it hadn’t been,for Jane, her good friend. Through
another woman, whose husband works in
John’s division, Jane hears about how
cozy he and Noreen are at coffee breaks.
She gets suspicious and does a bit of
snooping. She discovers John and
Noreen’s affair and goes right to Mary
with the news.
At first, Mary does not believe Jane,
but when she checks for herself, she
catches John red-handed—and red￾faced.
John is shaken because he never
believed he’d be discovered. He figured
that if Mary never knew about Noreen,
she could never be hurt. For the first
time, John feels deeply guilty. He begs Mary to forgive him and tries to explain
why he did it. “I could see how hard you
were working with your studies and I
didn’t want to be selfish and demand that
we make love. The thing with Noreen
just happened—then I guess I let it
continue because I needed it. I never
meant to hurt you. Now I can see that I
was selfish after all and really stupid. I
promise you it won’t happen again.”
Mary is heartbroken and furious. Why
couldn’t John have said something? Why
did he have to betray their marriage to
meet his needs? For the first time Mary
sees that her drive for her degree has
become a booby trap. She weeps
uncontrollably, and John feels equally devastated. He continues to beg Mary for
forgiveness and swears he will never
see Noreen again.
Because she truly loves John, Mary
forgives him and tries to make some
changes. She cuts back on classes to
make time for tennis again. She tries to
make love to John several times a week,
with passion and enthusiasm. John
intends to be faithful, but in the first
weeks after the confrontation, he suffers
the most severe depression of his life.
You see, whether or not he likes it, his
Love Bank has taken its deposits. He
now loves Mary and Noreen. John
misses Noreen but he can’t leave Mary.
In short, John loves and needs both women. They both have substantial
balances in his Love Bank, and he cannot
seem to do without either one of them.
Hard as he tries, John cannot stay
away from Noreen. To relieve his
depression he gets back together with
her and finds that she has also been
depressed in his absence. She welcomes
him back in a wild evening of
lovemaking, and they plan more
elaborate ways to get together without
being discovered. But before long, Mary
becomes suspicious and soon she knows
she is sharing her husband with another
woman, a woman to whom he has
become addicted.
What Next?
Often at this point, people like John
and Mary end up in my office. He wants
to end the affair because of the growing
pressure at home. She wants him to get
rid of the other woman because it drives
her crazy. And the other woman may
have grown tired of being noble and
patient. She pressures the husband to
divorce his wife and marry her.
The erring spouse—in this case the
husband—can’t bring himself to give up
either woman. He is like a donkey
between two bales of hay, but instead of
starving to death because he cannot
decide which bale to choose, he tries to
nibble on both!
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