These sound like comforting words. These sound like words that make you secure. These sound like words that should make you feel comfortable being yourself. They sound like a beacon of hope. But let me tell you about these words. They come with fine print. They come with a word of caution. There are unspoken words that tag along to the end of that statement. “I’m here for you…until I’m not.” …until it isn’t fun, …until it isn’t convenient, …until it gets too hard, …until I see how bad it actually is.
I’ve seen first hand someone speak these words to me, to give me reassurance that they will understand what I am going through, and they will be a rock when I can’t stand anymore, that I don’t have to work so hard to make myself seem happy when I’m not to please other people, and then as soon as I let my guard down I’m left in the dust.
I have this to say to those people: don’t say what you don’t mean. Don’t say what you think needs to be said to someone you see struggling because one day they will take you up on those words. They will lean on you emotionally and it’s going to be messy. It will be sad. And it will probably be something you’ve never seen before. When the dust clears from those walls breaking down you damn well better still be standing there like a light in the endless night ready to catch them when they fall. It may seem like a lot to ask of someone, but it is a lot to promise. If you can’t be that light, then don’t offer those words.
It’s no secret that relationships are hard. You have to work at them all the time. Life happens and it changes people and you have to figure out how you still fit with your SO constantly. Here are a couple of ways to make your spouse feel like you’re still trying.
Ask about their day
And actually listen when they tell you. It may seem like such a small thing, but the little things build the foundation to support the large weight of a fundamentally strong relationship. I’m a stay at home mom currently, and now that my oldest is back in school, life doesn’t vary day to day with a 19 month old. But it is still nice to be asked. Adult communication is vital for parents especially.
Ask about your partner’s dreams/aspirations
I’m a person that has trouble sometimes articulating my desires because it is very personal for me. I’ve had the sole identity of “mom” for so long that it is hard for me to think of doing anything else. But I want to, and I’m so excited about it. And I’m sure your partner is too. All you have to do is ask.
Support your partner
I feel like this one should go without saying, but it is often overlooked. This is kind of an umbrella category because it means so many things. Support their dreams, support their goals, support them emotionally and physically, support them against people who rail against them. Be there in every way for them.
Don’t hide things
I’m one of the brave souls of the world who doesn’t have a lock on their phone. I’m not passing judgement on anyone that does. My lack of passcode is more anxiety fueled because in the event of an accident I want first responders to be able to easily access my emergency contacts, but it’s also because at any given time, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to have anybody see the content of my phone. Want to see a bazillion pictures of my family or see the ridiculous conversations I have with my mom? Be my guest. I’m an open book. I won’t begrudge anybody their right to privacy, but if there is something on your phone that would hurt your partner, you’re doing something wrong. This heading really goes for communication in general. Don’t hide things. It might suck to hear the truth sometimes but it’s more painful to be left in the dark.
I’m not a relationship expert by any means. But there are basic things that I think people need to be reminded of. Life gets crazy and we sometimes forget to give our SO the attention they need. Check in with them and it’s amazing how smoothly that machine can run.