How to be a more emotionally supportive partner

Want to be an emotionally supportive partner? Our expert tips can help you and your significant other improve how you support each other.

By Christa Connell

How to be a more emotionally supportive partner
©iStockphoto.com/Laflor Photography
With the pressures of raising children, working, managing finances and handling a variety of other daily stressors, it can be easy to forget that your spouse counts on you for emotional support. This kind of support comes in many forms, and is different for every couple, but a happy and healthy relationship can't survive without it.

To get some insight into how couples can prop each other up in the good times and bad, we spoke with Linda Chapman, a psychotherapist in Toronto. She shared five tips for improving the way you support each other.

1. Tell each other what you need
If you haven't been vocal about what you need when times are tough, it's important to let your spouse know. And if your spouse isn't providing the kind of emotional support you would like, then you might have to spell it out.

"When you are in a less-stressed moment, try to talk to each other about the kinds of things that help you," says Chapman. "Only you can say what helps you when stress arises." It could be just bringing home a bottle of wine after a rough week or offering a shoulder to cry on.

But it's also important to look at the situation in reverse, she advises. If your spouse is falling short in supporting you, it may be useful to think of the ways you are not supporting him.

2. Jump in and help out
When your spouse is overwhelmed with housework, financial strain or a tough project at work, Chapman says the best option is simply to ask what you can do to make things easier. Could you take some housework off your spouse's plate? Or are there some things you could give up to help out with the finances? The key is to be genuine.

"Attitude is very important. If you do this with a bitter or difficult attitude, you'll just add stress," she warns. "You should do it freely and generously in a heartfelt way."

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover three more great ways to be a more emotionally supportive partner on page 2.


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