How can you show someone how much you support them?
By Alessia Santoro
No matter what life throws your way, having a supportive spouse through the good and the bad can make all the difference. If, when you’re having an awful day, your spouse will sit and listen to you vent rather than dismissing your issue by telling you “it’ll be OK,” you can move on to resolve the situation knowing that you have the support of your partner. Or if you’re having a great day by your own standards, even if the rest of the world wouldn’t see its events as anything to write home about, a supportive spouse will be right there with you, celebrating.
Finding the perfect person who can be all these things for you can prove to be difficult and out of your control, sure, but what you can control are your own abilities to be a supportive partner for your other half. Whether you’ve got all of these down pat or could use a hand in figuring out how to be more present in your relationship and caring for your partner, read on to see the signs that indicate whether you’re on the right track.
1. You make time to talk to them about their goals, plans, and future.
It’s easy to sometimes focus on what needs to get done day to day to keep your household running while subsequently forgetting that it’s important to also focus on achieving future goals and growth. When you’re a supportive partner, you always make time for your spouse to talk about their goals and plans, both short term and long term, and to outline what they see for themselves in the future — both for your shared relationship and for their own self.
2. You encourage all of your spouse’s ideas, from the ridiculous to the genius.
Even when the idea is for a company that makes boxers for men called “Sausage Pockets” (yes, that’s a real idea I’ve had to sit through), encouraging your spouse’s ideas is important, and a supportive spouse will always do so. Whether it’s a legitimate idea for how to do something or a silly idea about what to do for date night, you don’t necessarily have to agree with each and every one, but by encouraging them all in some way (maybe for the Sausage Pocket idea you encourage their creativity and ingenuity rather than the product itself), you show your partner that you have their back and support them no matter what.
3. You take an equal approach to parenting.
Whether you stay home with the kids, they do, or you both work, you pay attention to what your kids need from you both and do your share to make sure you’re helping out as much as possible. From entertaining the kids while your spouse takes a shower to changing a blowout diaper if you didn’t handle the last one, there are lots of opportunities to lighten your partner’s load and show that you’re in it together.
4. You can sense when your partner needs a break.
If you’re a supportive partner, you don’t need to hear the words “I need a break” to know that your partner is tired, stressed, or upset and needs a few minutes (or more) to themselves. Whether they’ve been with the kids all day and you just got home to chaos or they had a seriously long day at work and need 20 minutes to run a relaxing bath, you know when to let them have a little me time so that they can come back into whatever you’re doing together with a fresh mindset.
5. You try to empathize with your partner’s problems rather than immediately fix them.
Listening when your partner talks about a problem they have is so important, but what’s even more important is the way you then respond to the issue. A supportive partner knows that sometimes their spouse just wants to hear “I’m sorry you’re dealing with that, that really sucks,” instead of a laundry list of things they can do to fix the issue off the bat. Sometimes the latter is necessary and helpful, but usually, your spouse will mention they need help sorting through something or want your opinion on how to solve a problem at some point during the conversation, which is your cue to lay out the helpful advice.
6. You understand that you can’t always be their first priority.
Sure, sometimes it’s upsetting when your partner has a last-minute change of plans, ruining something you two had planned together, but for the most part, you’re understanding. Whether they need to stay late at work, are sleep-deprived, or just need to reschedule a plan, you can support that need without picking a fight about their lack of attention to you. In turn, they’ll feel that their needs and time are being respected rather than feeling guilty.
7. You ask questions about their day — and actually remember the details.
It’s one thing to ask “How was your day?” in the first place, but it’s another thing to make sure that this mindless, habitual question doesn’t become just that. If you’re supportive of your spouse, you’re listening to what they’re really saying about their day, their job, their friends — and remembering the main details. Not having to ask “Who’s Joan again?” every time your spouse is talking about their boss shows them you’re actually listening and taking it all in.
8. You don’t tune them out or check your phone when they’re talking, no matter what the conversation’s about.
There’s nothing more disheartening and rude than noticing the person you’re talking to one on one is tuning out the conversation — especially if they’re your partner. No matter who initiated the conversation, a supportive partner always gives their full attention to it. Sure, you multitask and chat while dinner’s cooking or while getting ready for bed, but you always do your best to listen or at least give your partner a heads up if your mind is elsewhere or you need to desperately check your email.
9. You’re their biggest cheerleader.
Whether they got a promotion at work, are running a marathon, or have mastered a recipe they’ve been testing, you’re there to cheer them on. For both big things and small, a supportive partner is ready to congratulate and celebrate wins (even if it’s the simple fact that you opened that pickle jar that had been giving you some trouble — we all like to win).
10. You know when to apologize.