Whether in a relationship as friends or as couples, there will be a time when showing support is necessary. Depending on the relationship, this could be frequently, or only occasionally. Chances are, at some point it will be us who needs support in something.
Either way, relationships fail daily from lack of support. Of course, I don’t mean financial support in this article, but rather, being there for them in times of joy as well as times of sorrow.
Support is a verb. It means action. So, when we see that a friend or partner is in need of support in some way, it means we must get up and do something.
The reason why relationships struggle with this, as many of us already know, is because one person in the relationship doesn’t put in effort when needed. When our spouse comes home and is obviously tired and frustrated with their day, they often want to unload some of that tension.
Suppose the above example happens. They walk through the door, drop their work bag, and slam themselves down into the couch. Clearly there is an issue and the stress is thick.
Ideally, we would engage in conversation. But, suppose instead of worrying about their problem, we instantly start talking about our own problem, or something they did earlier that ticked us off (left the milk jug out on the counter when they left for work).
I know this seems unlikely, but there really are people who fail to realize that there is a time and place for everything. The better method here, is to sit down with the partner and let them vent. Worry about the milk later when their mood lightens. Also, this prevents us from wearing the milk!
3 ways we can show support
Although there are many ways to show support to someone, I will list 3 that I commonly use. I would venture to say that they should really be the first ones to do also.
In 20 years of marriage to the same person, one can really learn to read the other. This is true for me. So, when I see an issue rising, or a breakdown in our relationship of some sort, I try not to waste much time.
Here are the 3 ways that I try to be supportive:
- I try to be a good listener
- I try to get into the mood with them
- And finally, I try to get involved with helping them find solutions
1. Be a good listener to show support
The first part to being supportive and a good listener is to give them the stage. We become the audience; and the role of the audience is to be quiet and take in the show.
So, give them our full attention, and just quietly listen.
People will often prompt us with a question or some form of body language when they want our input. But, until then, it is often best to let them unload.
This is part of the stress-reducing process. By providing them a safe environment to get something off their chest is a great way for them to unload stress.
After they have said what they had bottled up inside them, we can often see a difference in their attitude and the air around them will seem lighter. Sometimes this is all that was needed. No input from us; just for someone to vent to.
Also, when we are being a good listener, we are also not trying to be judgmental. If it is something they have done that was less than intelligent, then us giving them more ways to feel dumb won’t help.
2. Try to share their mood
I think being supportive to someone means taking their side. Now, I’m not recommending taking immediate action without thinking, but rather, at least sharing their mood. If they are upset with someone, we can take their side and get a bit upset about it too.
But, when we do this, we must realize that this isn’t something we want to escalate. This is just a way to show them that they are in a safe enough environment to now talk about the issue.
Sometimes, when people need support, it isn’t a negative situation either. Suppose a person is about to step out of their comfort zone and need inspiring support from us to help boost their confidence.
Again, we must share the mood with them. This means we should get excited with them. Especially if we know someone who is clearly a dreamer. We know they will likely never do what they are dreaming about and sharing with us.
So, instead of being critical; why not get excited with them about it for a while. Dreaming and leaving reality for a bit is a great way to reduce stress; just be sure to return soon.
3. Help them find a solution
We need to be able to read the situation. Sometimes, showing support means to hold someone and just listen. Sometimes it means for us to get excited and encourage them any way we can. And sometimes, it means that they need us to get involved and help them take action.
When this is the case, we need to remember that two heads are often better than one. This, simply put, means that we can come into the situation with a fresh mind, and often be able to think clearly about possible solutions and their outcomes.
Their mind might be cluttered up and foggy from all the thoughts they are processing. So, if we can take an unbiased approach and offer some solutions, the issue can be resolved quicker.
Furthermore, getting involved might mean just that. If we see that our friend or partner has gotten involved in something too much, or taken on more than they can handle, then we can show our support by partnering up with them to help them get through it. This is better than watching them get completely defeated and losing confidence.
Being supportive to our partners and our friends shows tremendous character. It is something that helps build the relationships. Being supportive means to put our stereotypes and criticism aside, and just listen and provide supporting suggestions.
It often doesn’t take much; by giving them center stage and the spotlight, we can become the hero. And who knows; it might only take 5 minutes to listen, but that action might build a relationship that lasts a lifetime.
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How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.