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How To Show Up For Your Other Half

If everyone went through hardships completely on their own, the world would be a much sadder place. The fact about humans is that we are a communal species. We need each other for support and caring when life goes awry. How that support and care looks is different for everyone though. There is simply no cookie-cutter method to helping everyone, every time.

Supporting your spouse or partner through difficult times is crucial to building a stronger relationship. It’s imperative that you know what your partner needs in order to make it out of the other side of all situations.

The Types of Care

There are a few main ways people like to have support shown to them: venting, consolation, advice, and distraction. Venting is a release of emotions, typically through words, but also through art and emotional expressions. Consolation are words of support given to someone after they have experienced harm. Advice is what an outsider gives to another in order to solve the problem. Finally, distractions help pull the person hurt away from intense emotions so they can better process them later. All of these types of support are equally valid, but not everyone responds to them the same.

“What’s your type…

Of emotional support?” You can easily improve your emotional support by just asking your partner what they need. This question should be asked outside of and during an emotional situation. By asking outside of an emotional situation, you can get a general idea of how your partner usually needs support. It should also be asked before acting so that you can support the other in the best way possible. Your partner may usually like to be consoled, but depending on the situation, they need to vent.

No More, No Less

Be sure that after you ask your partner what kind of support they need, you don’t overstep their boundaries by going above or below their needs. By doing too much, the hurt partner can become overwhelmed. By not doing enough, they can feel unheard and in an even worse state. Before taking any action, touching, hugging, getting something for them, be sure to ask. “Do you want some water?” “Do you want advice?” “Do you want me to hold you or do you want to be alone?” Asking consent allows your partner to tell you exactly what they want and need.

Practice Verbalizing

It can be helpful to others (and provide a positive example) by expressing your emotional support needs before launching into an emotional experience. It gives your supportive person time to prepare to help you and allows them to set boundaries if they are unable to. For example:

“Hey, I had a really bad day today. Can I vent?”

“I’m sorry your day was rough! I’m currently at work, but I can be there for you when I’m off at 5pm.”

“Okay, thank you so much.”

If an issue is more pressing, or even emergent, it’s important to clarify that as well:

“Babe, something awful happened and I need to talk to you as soon as possible. I need you.”

“Of course, what can I do to help you?”

“Listening to what happened, please. Maybe advice afterwards.”

“Okay, I’ll check in with you again when you’re done. Do you need water?”

“Yes, please.”

“I’m on it.”

Recognize What Works

Finding out what kind of emotional support works for you and your partner may be a matter of trial and error if it’s not something that you or they are used to. In these situations, it is, again, important to communicate what is working or doesn’t work and to check in occasionally. Asking questions every so often shows engagement and can give time to restate boundaries. And if you realize something may not be working, ask the person if they want more of the support type or not. Often, they will ask for a different type of support.

Remember that everyone needs someone in their life to hold them up in times of need. You should be in your partner’s first line of defense. Try to be the best support you can by asking the important questions.

Speak Your Mind

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