When your partner comes home and wants to share the events of the day, how do you respond? Improve your relationship by following some supportive strategies.
Discussing the day is such an integral part of being in a relationship – what happened at work or at the park, whether we achieved a lot, had a fantastic lunch and scored a promotion, or were let down by a friend and felt disappointed and frustrated. Have you found a way of showing support and care for your partner that makes them feel better?
If you are supporting your partner effectively, not only will you ease their distress but you can also help strengthen the relationship.
In an ideal situation, both partners are well attuned to each other’s needs and have a good understanding of the best way to support each other. However, life is life and often your best intentions can falter. You might feel overwhelmed yourself; you could be stressed, physically sick or simply not able to focus on someone else.
So what can you do to ensure that, even with limited resources, your attitude towards your partner is supportive and caring? Here are five practical tips to follow in communicating with your partner that confirm your love and re-establish trust.
These and some other practical tips are from the famous book by Gottman and Silver “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”. A book that I would highly recommend to read if you would like to strengthen your relationship with your partner.
When your partner is hurt, disappointed and stressed, show them that you are right there, by their side. Make it clear that you have their back, no matter what. Let them know that together you will get through anything. It is okay to say: “It is so unfair! You deserve to be treated better.”
- Connect emotionally
What is your partner experiencing? Do they feel rejected, disappointed or hurt? Show your partner that you see they are feeling vulnerable and that their experiences matter. Talk about what has affected them. In the moment of sharing, reflect on the emotions expressed: “This is outrageous” or “Yes, it seems so unfair”.
- Show your interest
Ask questions. If your partner says: “Oh it’s nothing, it’s stupid, not a big deal”, then let them know that you care and want to know about their experiences and feelings. It is not always easy to talk about difficult emotions, and the tendency might be to minimise their impact on you. At the same time, we want to be held and understood by the people closest to us. We want someone to care enough to ask us questions.
- Refrain from correcting, judging or shaming
This is absolutely not a time to pass judgement, and say: “It was stupid to trust him, I told you so”. Even if it needs to be discussed later, initially refrain from using any language that might inflict further emotional pain. It is also not the time to give unsolicited advice and recommend glib solutions like, “Why don’t you simply…” to your upset partner.
- Show your love
When you are at your lowest, what do you need to feel loved and nurtured? How do you like being supported? What about your partner? Is it as simple as making a cup of tea or maybe giving them a cuddle? If you are not sure, then ask your partner: “What do you need at this moment?”
If you follow these steps then most likely your partner will appreciate that you are trying to support them in their moment of distress. We all want to feel loved and cared for, especially when we are at our lowest ebb and feel vulnerable and hurt. Providing caring support strengthens your partner and your relationship at the same time. Your partner is more likely to feel that they can trust you because you provide emotional support when it is needed the most.
Practise these strategies and let us know if you begin to notice a difference in your relationship. If you have been doing something else that works well and has helped your partner and relationship at the same time, please let us know.
Source: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman and Nan Silver.
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