We all want to believe we’re god’s gift to earth, especially in our relationships. The truth is most of us are tired and overworked. In this state, it’s easy to go into autopilot and neglect the day-to-day maintenance that a healthy relationship requires.
Supporting your partner is your number one responsibility in your relationship. If you find yourself slipping into patterns, here are six relationship techniques you can focus on to make sure you’re being the anchor your partner needs.
1. Listen Actively.
Active listening is more than just listening. It’s engaging your partner when they’re sharing. Be honest with yourself. Do you zone out when your partner is speaking? It’s common to interrupt, hijack a story, or just not listen altogether, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Whether your partner is sharing a deep emotional moment or telling you about a work altercation, it’s your obligation to listen actively. So next time your partner is trying to confide in you, leave your bias at the door, wrangle in your thoughts, and focus on what your partner is saying. Be with their words.
2. Check In.
Whether you live with your partner or see them once a week, take the time to check in. Make a habit of asking them about their day-to-day. Listening to their big life questions and the mundane day-to-day builds trust and an expectation of communication. Make sure you’re giving them enough time to share their whole truth.
3. Pay Attention to Nonverbals.
In a new relationship, this one may be harder to gauge. Try to learn how they behave when they’re upset or happy. Match those reactions up with their words. See if you can read in between the lines of their words coming out of their mouth. If they’re able to verbalize upset every time, that’s great, but if not it’s your duty to learn the cues while the learn to express their needs for help. Use tone, body language, and eye movement as mood indicators. Most people are more in tune to body language than they give themselves credit for. If you have a gut instinct they need to talk, trust it.
4. Accept No’s.
Your partner might not want to talk. While communication is key in any relationship, don’t push them when they’re not ready. It’s okay if they don’t want to talk. They might not be ready. Trust their judgement. It’s not up to you to decide the appropriate response to their emotions. Instead, let them know you’re available for whatever type of support they need, even if that means space.
5. Provide comfort in a way that works for them.
We all have different ideas of what comfort means. For some people, it’s a warm chocolate chip cookie and a cozy bed. For others, it’s a nice long hike. Recognize what your partner defines as their comfort and do your best to provide it. They might be dealing with big work changes or fighting with a friend. When your partner comes to you in need of support, provide the comfort they’re lacking elsewhere.
6. Be open when you need support.
This advice may seem counterintuitive. Why ask for support when we’re talking about giving support? Because relationships are about give and take. If you don’t ask for support, you’re setting a poor precedent for how your partner should expect it. If you ask for support, you’re opening up a conversation that your partner can continue in the future. The next time they need support, they’ll know that you asked for support and feel more comfortable asking for it themselves.
Being supportive isn’t as easy as people think, but it’s start with intention. Remember you’re doing what you do out of love. Even if you don’t get it right on the first try, it’s a learning process and every relationship is different. The important thing is to make the active, conscious effort. You’ll get there, and your relationship will be better for it.