When your partner needs your help, here’s what you should do.
One of the best things about being married is that you have someone to lean on when the going gets tough. But even in new relationships, knowing that someone cares about you is helpful when you’re having a hard time. When your partner is stressed, consider proactively offering support, instead of waiting for him to come to you. Here are six situations when your partner needs a little extra loving.
1. When they have an important day at work. Even if he doesn’t look like he’s stressed, his big day at work is certainly on his mind. Want to be helpful? Don’t ask “Are you ready?” The only good answer is “yes,” and if she says that, there’s nothing to talk about. If she says “no,” it’ll just make her feel bad. Instead ask, “How are you feeling about [the meeting/presentation/asking for a raise?].” That opens the door for a discussion, and this is where you can offer support. Tell him you believe in him, tell her you’re proud of her, and remind him of past accomplishments.
Another way to help is offering to practice whatever it is they have to say. You play the boss/client/whoever, and let him say what he has prepared. Don’t critique unless he asks for your feedback. Even if you’re trying to be helpful, it can come across as criticism.
2. When they had a bad day. Her boss yelled at her, he had a fender-bender or she spilled coffee on her favorite white shirt. People can’t control their feelings. If your partner is in a bad mood, even for what seems like a silly reason, she needs your support. It can be as easy as opening your arms for a hug, rubbing his shoulders or bringing him a glass of wine. Ask if he wants to talk about it; some people will, others won’t. Either is OK. Eventually his mood will pass. And remember, his frustration isn’t aimed at you, so don’t take his negativity personally.
3. When they have a big decision to make. Offer to talk about the pros and cons of each choice. Give your opinion if it’s something that affects you directly but don’t expect him to take your advice or be too disappointed if he doesn’t. If you don’t know much about the various options don’t try to weigh in. Talking about it will help, but hearing someone’s uneducated opinion won’t.
4. When they have family problem. You don’t choose your family, as the old saying goes, and you can’t ignore a family-related issue. Even if you don’t like or know the relative in question, ask her if there’s anything you can do to help. Chances are there isn’t but it will help her to know that she has your support. Just squeezing her hand as she stands by a dying relative’s bedside or listening to her complain about an annoying sibling is enough.
5. When they’re mad at you. It seems counter-intuitive but when you and your significant other have just argued is one of the times they need you most. The way you handle disagreements is an important indicator of future relationship success; yes, it’s possible to be angry at someone and still indicate that you two are a team. How do you do this? Be respectful. Don’t call names or insult her. Don’t shut him or her out. Continue the discussion if you’re able to. If you can’t, tell them that this is important to you but so is the relationship and you don’t want to do damage by talking when you’re angry.
6. When they’re having financial trouble. Financial problems can be embarrassing and paralyzing. If you know he’s having problems, let him bring it up first. If he doesn’t, don’t press the issue unless you’re married or your finances are joined in some way. In that case it’s your problem, too, so you have a right to know what’s going on. Don’t offer a loan unless you’re comfortable with the idea that she might not pay it back right away — or ever. This is especially important if you’ve been together for a short time. If you break up, you don’t want to be hounding an ex for that $500 you gave him.
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