Providing support to your partner is essential in any loving relationship. However, showing support can be done in several ways, whether financially, physically, or emotionally.
As for the latter, one way to provide emotional support is through validation. If you struggle to handle your partner’s emotions through times of stress, here are some handy tips to help strengthen your emotional connection.
First, what is emotional support?
Before handing out tips, we need to understand what it means to provide emotional support.
In a nutshell, giving emotional support is a way to show care and compassion through gestures.
Some examples of how to provide emotional support include the following:
- Active listening. This step goes beyond simply hearing what your partner has to say. Actively listening to your partner involves understanding the meaning behind their words and intent. It requires an open mind and perspective, which are key ingredients in healthy communication.
- Offering reassurance. like “Words of Affirmation” by Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” offering reassurance means expelling any doubts, fears, or insecurities your partner may experience. Doing so provides comfort and helps restore their confidence in themselves.
- Validating their emotions. Emotional validation involves learning about and understanding your partner’s emotional experience while expressing acceptance.
It’s important to note that emotional validation doesn’t mean you agree or tolerate the other person’s belief or action. Still, you see how their emotional response is warranted. It’s a way of showing that you care without shaming, judging, or rejecting their feelings.
Providing emotional support can strengthen your relationship and help your partner feel less alone when done well.
How do I provide emotional support?
Now that you know the different areas of providing emotional support, here are some handy tips on how to give emotional support to your partner:
1. Listen carefully and without judgment. Dedicate some time to listen to your partner’s emotional problems. Consider how they may be feeling and keep track of how they react and what they say. Keep an open mind and understand that people respond differently to specific situations.
2. Summarize what they say. After they’ve done sharing their problems, try to summarize what they’ve just told you for clarification. This gesture shows that you’ve been listening carefully and you care.
Here are some examples:
- “It must be hard to work so hard and not feel appreciated…”
- “I can imagine how frustrating that must be…”
- “So, just to clarify means, do you mean…”
When doing so, remember to avoid the following:
- Telling or dictating to your partner how they should feel. This step gives the impression that you are disregarding their feelings and discouraging them from sharing their problems with you in the future.
- Saying, “I know how you feel. ” While it may sound empathetic and genuine, it also gives off the impression that you merely assume what the other person has to say.
- Minimizing the problem and its effects on the person. Statements like “Oh, that doesn’t sound like a big deal!” or “I think you’re overreacting” are not helpful and make the person feel judged. Remember, validating a person’s emotions doesn’t mean you agree with their reaction.
3. Ask what they need. Does your partner want advice? Or do they prefer to share their emotions? Whatever they choose, respond appropriately so you don’t give the impression that you’re assuming their feelings.
- If they’re asking for advice, be honest. Even if you can’t relate, you can offer a listening ear and hope they find the mental clarity to make the right decision.
- If they want to vent, let them. The frustration of feeling unheard can make a person feel isolated and misunderstood. When letting your partner vent, offer reassurance that you are there for them.
When doing either, it helps to let the person take the lead. Eventually, they’ll show that they may prefer something else, like a distraction or a change of topic.
What can a person expect from emotional support?
Emotional support from your partner can be a great way to feel validated, reassured, and understood. However, it’s also important to be realistic when expecting or reassuring your partner emotionally. Here are some things to expect from both parties:
1. The problem may take time to be solved.
Providing emotional support aims to make one’s partner feel assured, understood, and validated. Depending on the circumstances, a person’s problem may take time. It’s also important to remember that while the listener can give advice, they are not obligated to solve the partner’s issues since it’s the latter’s responsibility.
2. The conversation may end before reaching a solution or compromise.
Obligations like family and work are unavoidable, so there’s a chance that such a conversation will be cut short before either party concludes.
When someone says they’re busy and must stop the conversation, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care. Additionally, if you’re a listener, setting healthy boundaries is essential to avoid jeopardizing your work and time.
3. There are third-party groups that offer help.
Fortunately, countless mental health professionals specialize in issues like work and family. While they don’t necessarily offer the same intimacy as your partner, many professionals can help you reach a solution that will help your situation. Additionally, working with a professional can help give you a new perspective that you may not have considered before.
Providing emotional support can be challenging, especially when you don’t always agree or relate to your partner’s reaction. Nevertheless, when providing emotional support, remember that the goal is to make your partner feel understood and validated without judgment.
Additionally, emotional support helps set realistic boundaries and expectations so neither party feels discouraged or ignored.
If the situation calls for a professional therapist, consider setting an appointment with a licensed specialist who can give you a new perspective on your situation. While they don’t provide the same intimacy as your partner, it may be beneficial to talk to someone who knows you from a professional standpoint. Good luck!