In my practice, the most often asked question is “How can I improve my relationship with my partner?”

The simple answer is to think of a relationship like you would your money. You know that you need to be careful with your money, and not spend what you don’t have. You need to plan wisely for those times when you can’t make enough and save when you can. You probably use a banking system that takes care of reminding you of all this. Sometimes it’s a problem when you realize that you have been careless and not keeping track of your finances. At that time you might seek help from a financial advisor. When it’s really become a problem, you could possibly become bankrupt and lose most of what you have accumulated.

Relationships are very similar to this. You must make sure to make timely “deposits of affection and understanding” if you want to draw on that relationship later on for support. Those “deposits” look like holding conversations where you are mentally present for each other. They are those hugs and affectionate kisses without any expectation other than just a quick acknowledgement of love. A small gift or chore that is done without being asked. Words of encouragement and appreciation just because you care.

Just like getting bank statements, you need to actually be taking a mental note of where you stand to see if the relationship is unbalanced in one direction. If you find that one person is constantly doing most of the “depositing” then it’s time to balance things out. If it seems difficult, this is the time to see a “relationship advisor.”

Don’t wait until things become a serious problem. You don’t want to find yourself “bankrupt” and losing the relationships that you really care about just because you didn’t realize that love, like money, can disappear when you are paying attention!

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Gina Crozier, the director of Sonoma Family Counseling has been working with families and children for over thirty years. Her style of counseling is positive, solution-focused with the idea that within everyone there is the ability to solve their problems.