This is a guest post by author Amber Trueblood, MFT, MFA. She is the author of Stretch Marks and a mother-of-four.
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Here’s why it may be VERY tough to support your partner:
- Pure Emotional Exhaustion. Most women are psychologically exhausted from the unique and unexpected challenges of 2020. The chronic stress and frustration left many depleted emotionally. When you’re already emotionally spent, it’s incredibly difficult to emotionally support your partner. Even those who try to give consistent emotional support may not take enough time to replenish their own emotional reserves, making the arrangement unsustainable. Self-care is an important part of supporting your partner.
- Unsure HOW to Help. Many couples have not experienced periods where one (or more) partner is going through a rough patch. This could be a health challenge, a layoff, or the loss of a family member. In unchartered territory, people are often uncertain what they can do or say that would actually be helpful. How YOU would prefer to be helped in the same situation often colors how you in turn attempt to help your partner. Without great communication skills or decades of experience thriving through new territory, many partners feel unsure how they can help support their struggling partner.
- Insecurities Abound. Often, it’s difficult to support your partner because you take their frustration, anger, (or even shame) personally. Individuals react so differently in times of financial uncertainty or health problems. Many will pull away emotionally. The frustration and fear may result in high levels of irritability, stress, or increased alcohol and drug usage. Partners may be reluctant to provide emotional support if they feel attacked or become a target for hostility.
Here’s HOW you can support your partner:
- Three Keys to Improving Communication. Start a routine of expressing genuine appreciation for your partner every night before bed.
- Showing gratitude for the small and specific actions of your partner allows the opportunity for bonding and connection. It can also help your partner feel appreciated and seen.
- Apologizing genuinely (and often) for anything you do or say that feels even remotely “yucky.” Chances are, if you remember it and feel uncomfortable about it, so does your partner. It ALWAYS feels good to hear someone apologize to you, even if the transgression was tiny or from years prior.
- Take responsibility for yourself. Your partner cannot read your mind. Don’t assume they understand your “hints” either. Instead, be clear, honest, kind, and direct as possible. Using “I” statements helps a lot.
For example, “When you don’t call when you’re going to be home late, the story I tell myself is…” This way, you’re not assuming your partner’s intent. However, you’re being honest about the way you feel and perceive their actions.
- Eye contact and a smile literally go a million miles (especially for supporting men). Similarly, a belly to belly, two-handed, 7-second hug speaks volumes (especially for supporting women). Initiating intimate, non-romantic touch and eye contact throughout your day shows you care. This type of contact supports emotional bonding as well as providing positive physiological effects like releasing those feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin.
- Remember it’s not about YOU. Your partners’ frustration, anxiety, or sadness is not about you. In fact, it’s likely emphasized by the shame of letting you down, or the belief they’re not pulling their weight. Sometimes this results in grouchiness, irritability, or pulling away emotionally. If you take a breath and remind yourself it’s not about you, it can help quite a bit.
Get very clear with yourself about how you can best support them (not “save” them). I recommend using this affirmation: “These are not MY emotions.” Repeating this statement allows you to separate your partners’ sadness and frustration from your own.
- Model Good Self-Care. Show don’t preach or teach. Do for yourself what you hope they can do for themself. Be the one on the shore compassionately watching them struggle in the waves, cheering them on with your feet safely on solid ground, knowing they can save themselves. That unwavering trust and faith in your partner will give them space to feel trust and faith in themselves. Ego can be tricky in a marriage. If you show hopelessness or panic often, remember what message you’re sending to your partner – that you don’t have confidence in them to get through this particular challenge.
Here’s WHY you should support your partner:
- Pull together or get pushed apart. It’ll benefit you and your future family to pull together and figure out how to best support one another, communicate kindly and authentically, and learn how to weather this type of storm. This will not be the only big challenge in your relationship, unfortunately. It could make for a very short relationship if you turn against one another during a challenging time. It won’t be easy and the solution won’t be immediate, but learning to “be there” for your partner in a way that truly matters to them will become a powerful tool you will use again and again throughout your relationship.
- You Are A Team (whether you like it or not). If your partner spirals downward emotionally, they’ll likely either pull you down with them or you will separate emotionally. Figuring out how to emotionally support your partner while still maintaining your own personal emotional strength is incredibly important. It’s vital to show consistent and genuine compassion without taking on responsibility for solving their specific problem.
- Perseverance. If you can learn the communication skills (and how to support one another) to get through this, you might be able to handle ANYthing that comes your way in life. Don’t give up too quickly. Divorce is exhausting, emotionally-grueling, expensive, and not fun.
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Good luck. You can do this! And, your relationship will be much stronger as a result of surviving and thriving through these challenges.
If you enjoyed this info, we have more from Amber! You can get your special free gift from Amber at https://ambertrueblood.com/awesomemoms/.
About Amber Trueblood
Amber Trueblood is an author, retreat-host, and the mother of four sons. She’s an unapologetic bibliophile, having devoured over 250 books on behavior, management, systems, parenting, meditation, and self-development. Her expertise, experience, compassion, and humor result in a unique combination of entertainment and effectiveness with her clients.
Interestingly, Amber wrote Stretch Marks, her debut book, while on a Broadway Tour with her husband and four sons, traversing over 60 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Amber is most passionate about providing mothers simple and realistic tools to guide them toward a happier, calmer parenting life. Her unique approach includes helping clients clarify their values and priorities, then showing them how to use that knowledge to make better discipline decisions, relieve mom-guilt, reduce self-judgment, and become a truly enlightened parent.
Amber Trueblood MFT, MBA is an author, retreat-host, and the mother of four sons. She’s an unapologetic bibliophile, having devoured over 250 books on behavior, management, systems, parenting, meditation, and self-development. Her expertise, experience, compassion, and humor result in a unique combination of entertainment and effectiveness with her clients. Interestingly, Amber wrote Stretch Marks, her debut book, while on a Broadway Tour with her husband and four sons, traversing over 60 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Amber is most passionate about providing mothers simple and realistic tools to guide them toward a happier, calmer parenting life. Her unique approach includes helping clients clarify their values and priorities, then showing them how to use that knowledge to make better discipline decisions, relieve mom-guilt, reduce self-judgment, and become a truly enlightened parent.
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