How to Be a Supportive Partner

Sometimes life throws a few curve balls your way and stress piles up, wreaking havoc in your relationship. A loss of employment, promotion or a loved one can add a lot of tension in ways that you may not be fully aware.

Often times these feelings can be isolating, but even in the toughest of times you want to help your partner stay afloat. So how exactly do you manage this temporary set back? Do you take the distance or irritability personal? Or do you provide comfort and encouragement?

Here are a few steps to help you become the support your partner needs:

1. Communicate

Open the door and invite discussion. What makes tough times feel most difficult is the feeling of loneliness. Perhaps your partner feels as though you won’t understand what s/he is going through or that you don’t care. You might find that they are more than willing to share their feelings, but you have to open to listening.

Let your partner know that you sense something is bothering them, and give them the freedom to come to you– no questions asked.  It’s okay if s/he doesn’t want to share everything (or anything at all). Just knowing that you have their back can repair what is broken.

2. Give them space

The last thing you want when you are going through something is someone hovering over you. Sometimes peace and quiet is all you need to get over the hump, so give your partner the opportunity to do some personal work. As long as you are there to catch them if they fall, you don’t need to ask 20 questions. Simply offer your ear when in need.

At times, taking this position can make you feel powerless, but you have to accept that you have no control and be fine with it. As much as you want to steer the ship, one must come to the realization that you do not write the story of their life. Some challenges will be had, but the road need not be traveled alone.

3. Be Empathetic

It’s easy to have an opinion on matters that affect your relationship, but the best way to help your partner though is to remain neutral and non-judgmental. Coming from a place of love and understanding should be your main goal, not asserting your position. This would not be productive.

If your partner lost his job, throwing it back in their face will not make them feel better. The fact is, people lose their jobs everyday for varying reasons. Plus, you’re not the one who lost out! Having an understanding spirit can repair your relationship and provide the boost it needs to survive.

If your partner lost a loved one, now is not the time to tell them how much you disliked that person. Empathy and compassion can melt the best of hearts, so pour as much love into your partner as you can stand.

4. Be Encouraging

Everyone wants their own personal cheerleader, and your partner is no different. They crave your support, positivity and empathy, but they also want your encouragement. Optimism is infectious. If you hear it enough times, you just might start to believe it!

Being strong through the fire is difficult, but you can help them understand just how temporary the situation is through your love. Words like, “this is just a minor setback. It will be okay,” can sound like music to someone who feels down and out. But there is a balance you must consider with being encouraging. That is not to be condescending. While the storm might be temporary, their feelings are valid and must be respected.

It’s certainly guaranteed that your relationship will encounter hardships, but it’s not so much about the struggle as it is about how you overcome. Be a beacon in the dark waters and you will help your partner stay afloat.

Have your own tips on how to provide support to your partner? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts below.

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