If we are going through tough times, then we need safety and support. Likewise, we need to offer that sense of safety to our partners.
Of course, we all want to offer this. However, it can sometimes be challenging to do so. The stressors might be in the outside world. Nevertheless, they impact our relationships. Sometimes we can feel insecure because of them.
Therefore, we may want to protect ourselves by getting defensive. However, if we can let go of defensiveness, then we can open ourselves to creating a safe space for our partner. In turn, that strengthens the security in the relationship. It is good for them, for us, and for the relationship as a whole.
Embrace a Team Attitude
The number one thing to communicate to your partner is that you are a team. This is a consistent message that you can always send no matter what else is going on in your lives. Position the problem as something that you can solve together. It may seem insurmountable, but you’ll chip away at it together. Together, you will be fine.
This message of teamwork is so powerful. It clearly communicates that you want to offer safety and support. It says, “I am on your side. You are not alone.”
Learn to Listen without Judgment
Your partner needs to be able to talk about the things that are stressing them. In order for them to talk, they need you to listen. It is important to learn to listen without judgment. You don’t need to jump in to “fix” or “solve” the issue. In fact, what really helps is asking open-ended questions and really hearing the answers. Provide your partner with space to share their thoughts and experiences. Support them in that. Having a safe space to share will offer security to your partner.
The 20-Minute Conversation
The twenty-minute conversation is a great ritual that you can implement today. The idea is simple; talk face-to-face with your partner for twenty minutes each day. Dr. John Gottman calls this a stress-reducing conversation. This increases your connection. It helps you each let off steam. You can share your days and the stressors that might have arisen. Simply knowing that your partner will be there to have this conversation with you every day creates an immense amount of safety and support.
Practice Grace and Gratitude
Unfortunately, when we go through tough times, we often take it out on those we love most. Your partner may do this when stressed by work and other external factors. If the situation is temporary, it might be best to handle it with grace and gratitude. In other words, let the little things go. Continue to communicate to your partner that you are so thankful for who they are.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should accept abuse or cruelty. You can still set your own boundaries while communicating love. This is about emphasizing the good things and minimizing the negative to get through a tough time.
Silently Communicating Safety and Support
The words that you say to your partner are important. They need to hear that you are on their side. However, there are also so many other ways to communicate this to your partner. Silent gestures that communicate safety and support include:
- Hugs and kisses
- Reaching out with a loving note or text message
- Rubbing their neck and shoulders
- Snuggling on the couch and in bed
- Taking care of some of their usual chores
In other words, it helps to simply be there for your partner. Show them in small ways that you aren’t going anywhere.
Attending couples’ therapy is another way to support your partner. Learn more about that here.