Being a supportive partner can mean a lot of different things. Some of it will depend on your partner, but everyone needs support. Firstly, there's the big picture, the big life decision type of support. "One way to become a better partner is by supporting your partner's dreams," relationship counselor Crystal Bradshaw tells Bustle. "Don't know what they are? Don't have a clue if your partner has any? Then you should ask, because this is super important stuff. I'm constantly surprised by my couples when I ask them about their life dreams, values, goals, and hopes... Often, people tell me, 'I don't know what my dream is.'" It's partially your job to help your partner discover keep those goals and dreams alive.
But there's also the other kind of support — the day-to-day being there for them. The little things. And it's actually surprisingly easy to be a supportive partner. Sure, there will be rough patches when you'll find it more stressful and more wearing, if your partner is require more support. But for the most part, being there for your partner requires two things: understanding what they need and then putting that understanding into practice. And a little bit of maintenance will go a long way when things get tough.
So here are easy ways to be a supportive partner:
1Check In On The Reg
You know when problems have built up so much you don't even know how to begin to tackle them? You want to avoid that. "I honestly think that each couple should have a talk before things have ever come to this point," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. If you regularly check in with your partner, that day-to-day support will keep your relationship ticking along.
2Know What They Need
"The one conversation a couple can have in order to build intimacy is to ask: How can I help you when you're suffering?" clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte, who offers transformational coaching for individuals and couples at Healing Arts New York, tells Bustle. "How would you like me to react … when you are in pain?" It's a really simple conversation that can make a huge difference. Some people may need space, others may want companionship, some may need to talk it out endlessly. Once you have that information, you can put it to use when it counts most.
3Create A Stress-Free Environment
Little touches can show how much you care, especially when your partner is having a difficult time. "A foot rub, alone time in front of the TV, a relaxing bubble bath, sex, or perhaps something else?" relationship trainer and author of Unbreakable Love: Proven Methods For Developing a Stronger, More Satisfying Relationship In Just 30 Days Daniel Amis tells Bustle. "Whatever it is, provide them a way to become less stressed."
4Be Quiet And Just Listen
Everybody wants to be heard. "Hold space," Rachel Astarte, transformational coaching for individuals and couples at Healing Arts New York, tells Bustle. "... Create a safe place for your beloved to vent. Chances are it's temporary, and sometimes just by virtue of being heard, your partner will feel better." Showing that you're there, fully present, is in a lot of ways the ultimate way to show support.
5Remind Them You Love Them
Saying — or showing — how much you love someone is a good reminder that they have your support. "My husband has a wonderful way of comforting me when I start losing it," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships, tells Bustle. "He looks at me, smiles, and says, 'I love you,' and then asks, 'What can I do to help you?'" Some people just need to hear it.
6Know When To Ask Questions
If something seems to be bothering your partner, open up the conversation. "Ask questions," psi counselor Laurel Clark tells Bustle. "People need space, so it may be that you need to give your partner space, but it may also be that there's something wrong and he or she doesn't know how to talk about it." With some gentle prompting, you'll give them the opportunity to share.
Being supportive sometimes means acknowledging the tough stuff. Maybe they have seem stressed and not themselves, maybe you're not being there for each other enough — whatever it is, say it. "Acknowledge the distance that you feel and ask your partner if they have felt it too," psychologist and breakup coach Joy Harden Bradford tells Bustle. "Ask if there is something going on that needs to be discussed and be open to the answer." Starting the conversation about difficult periods is the best way to get through them faster — and save both of you a lot of struggle.
In order to be a supportive partner, a lot of it comes down to the day-to-day. If you're laying the groundwork, they'll know the support is there, and you'll be in a strong position for when times get harder.