This is how you support your partner when you are hurt too
Be there for each other even if you’re both in pain. Here are 8 ways to support your partner when you need support as well.
Assisting a partner in crisis while you are injured is all too common in people’s lives in average circumstances, and life has been far from average lately. The stress of the pandemic was overwhelming. Our jobs could be gone. Family visits for the holidays can be lost this year. Some have lost friends and family. Both partners are likely to be in pain. Our partner’s needs can feel overwhelming when we struggle with our own feelings. There aren’t any easy answers, but here are some tips that can help.
Make time every day to listen to each other
When we feel heard and cared for, our injuries become more manageable. This goes against the natural style for some people, but this could be the time to change that pattern. When couples practice sharing and listening, over time they get closer, deepen trust and feel supported in their pain.
Ask what you need
There are times when life takes us past the point of listening and we just need to be held on. It’s okay to ask what we need.
Engage with “unsolicited” affection
When people are under stress, they often need confirmation of their partner’s touch. Unfortunately, many couples are reluctant to ask for or offer physical affection because they fear that their partner will accept it as an invitation to sex. There is certainly nothing wrong with sexually lusting for your partner, but there are times when we get stressed that we just need a hug or a cuddle without having to deal with what feels like pressure to keep going walk.
Practice the stress-reducing conversation
Years ago it was discovered that couples who stayed close together over time could listen to each other’s stresses well. Take about 30 minutes. Spend half the time listening to your partner’s feelings and half the time sharing your own. Focus on things outside of the relationship. This is not the time to talk about things that are upsetting about your partner. Avoid problem solving, instead offer empathy and understanding. Ask caring questions like “What’s the worst for you?” It can be very nice to know that our partner is on our side no matter what.
Everyone has their own experience of stress and injury and it helps to feel heard by our partner. Focus on your role as a listener when your partner is sharing. Comments like “You think this is bad, listen to this!” will just get in the way.
Listen to the triggers
Often times, current problems evoke feelings from previous experiences, which add to the pain. Try to become aware of these moments in yourself. You can also ask your partner about triggers that might apply to them. Something like, “I know you are really worried about money now, and I remember how difficult this was for you when you were a kid” can help your partner feel understood and cared for.
Make time for good things between you
Don’t spend all of your time talking about problems and injuries. Remember that you are friends and lovers. The more you find moments of happiness, laughter, intimacy and warmth, the better you can cope with the struggles of this time. Include dates and times, even if they’re just for dinner and Netflix.
Repair the damage
What if the pain is there because of a negative experience with your partner? Research on couples shows us that all couples have these moments. We get hurt by what our partner says or does or does not do. Sometimes we nurture these hurts in our thoughts and memories, and our partner may not even be aware of our feelings. Repairing these moments is the essential skill to learn. Try to cultivate the courage to tell your partner if they did something to hurt you. Don’t criticize them, just tell them what is bothering you. If your partner approaches you because of their hurt feelings, try to listen without being defensive. It can be difficult, but remember that repairing those negative moments is essential to a positive relationship and that it will be worth it in the end.
When we know that our partner cares about us and what we are going through, it becomes easier to manage that care i