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Communication Advice Article

Marriage Advice: How to Ask for Support... Even When Your Spouse is Stressed Out

By Susie and Otto Collins

To keep your marriage healthy, it is important that each of you feels like you can depend on the other. What it means to feel supported by your spouse is different for everyone. That's why communicating your needs to your love is vital.

Things get trickier when your husband or wife is going through stressful times, however. Perhaps there's more tension at work for your mate lately. Or maybe he or she is encountering a more personal struggle.

You probably don't want to "burden" your partner by making a request for him or her to increase support for you in some way. This possibly feels to you like a time to step back and give your mate some space.

In the meantime, you may find another way to meet your needs and get the support you originally desired
from your partner.

While your intention to do what you can to lessen your mate's load right now is admirable, it may not be beneficial for your relationship. That space you give to your partner could end up creating distance between you two. And distance usually means you and your spouse are disconnected.

From this place of disconnection, miscommunication, hurt and upset can easily occur.

Of course, when your partner is stressed out you will likely be doing more of the supporting than the receiving. But don't turn away from your mate or assume that he or she is absolutely unavailable to you just because you are aware of the difficulties going on.

When you are mindful of how you request support and you continue to offer yourself as a bolster for your mate, you two can actually move closer to each other in spite of virtually any situation.

Kimberly knows that her husband Paul is going through a really tough time right now. He's been out of work for several months and it just seems like he can't get a break on a good job lead.

At the same time, Kimberly has just been promoted and she is feeling nervous about some of the new responsibilities her employer has laid on her shoulders.

While Kimberly's promotion has been wonderful in relieving some of the financial tensions on her family, it has only seemed to add to the emotional stress.

Guessing that Paul is feeling a bit embarrassed and
depressed about his own employment status, Kimberly has worked hard to downplay her promotion and more successful job situation at the moment.

However, she's feeling like she'd really like Paul's emotional support for and even advice about how to handle some of these new job responsibilities.

Kimberly has not asked for this support from Paul because she's afraid it will make him feel bad. Instead, they both are suffering-- separately.

Make specific requests for support.
If you want to ask your spouse for support and he or she is going through stressful times, first gain clarity within yourself about the request. Come up with a specific statement or question around what it is you want.

Set aside your worries that you will be further burdening your mate. Instead, create within yourself the intention that you and your partner can move
closer together as you ask for his or her help and then receive it.

When Kimberly requests support from Paul, she puts it in a concrete way. She asks him how he would handle a particular scenario with a co-worker whom she now is supervising.

Kimberly starts out by acknowledging to Paul that she doesn't want to add to his tension, but she'd really like to hear his ideas about this situation. She adds that she values his perspective and experience.

Because of the way Kimberly chose to phrase her request, Paul felt honored and appreciated. He was actually happy to take the time to focus on something other than his job search and to be helpful to Kimberly.

They connected as they talked about Kimberly's problem and brainstormed possible ways for her to handle it.

Look for ways that you both can have your needs met.
As Kimberly opened up to asking Paul for support in this way, a new sense of ease came into their relationship. Yes, Paul is still on the job hunt and Kimberly continues to adjust to her new work responsibilities, but they both feel less alone in handling these individual challenges.

If your partner is unable to support you in the specific way you've requested, ask if there is another, perhaps similar, way that he or she thinks would be doable.

If you can stay open and willing to expand, you and your partner can almost always find a way that both of your needs can be met.

You can feel the support that you want and your spouse can be a supporter to the degree he or she is able. Set aside judgments or blame and, instead, know that you two can face anything as you are loving and stay available to one another.

For more communication tips to help you create great relationships, visit
http://www.StopTalkingonEggshells.com

 

 

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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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