Marriage guidance, advice, and relationship tips from expert marriage therapist Azizeh Rezaiyan
What does it mean to be a supportive spouse? Should you fake support no matter what, acting against your true feelings? What is considered support – is it words, actions, participation?
Step 1: Look for Opportunities
Take a deep breath – you can be more supportive in a marriage without compromising authenticity. Once you decide you want to be more supportive, look for opportunities to do so. Awareness is the first step; from there you have many options. You can listen attentively, give reassuring physical affection, express verbal encouragement, offer advice or information, or take on actions or responsibilities to facilitate. If one of these methods seems obvious and natural, go for it!
Step 2: Offer Support and/or Ask Your Spouse What They Need
Now there is a relationship life hack: in a marriage you don’t have to come up with it all yourself! In fact, thoughtfully asking your spouse what they need and want to feel supported is typically a win-win. You can ask in the moment, or it can be part of a larger conversation where you seek to understand the type of interactions that tend to make your spouse feel particularly supported or unsupported. Maybe your spouse wants your thoughts and advice, or maybe they just want you to listen and tell them they are doing great.
Step 3: Ask for What You Need
You can also be a more supportive spouse by asking for what you need from your partner instead of waiting for them to read your mind. No matter how much you have in common, you are different people and you grew up with different models of marriage and communication. Listening to your spouse’s desires and clearly communicating yours in a long-term dialogue can transform your partnership. This is an important skill; begin working on it but don’t be afraid to seek help from a marriage and family therapist if it feels especially difficult or unfruitful. It truly is a skill, and a couples therapist can help you become competent at it.
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