Learn what it means to be there for your spouse or partner
Over and over I hear from couples about the struggle with one (or both) people feeling alone in the marriage or relationship. Feeling sad or angry about your spouse not responding the way you need them to – with empathy, understanding and compassion. Maybe they even put up a wall, dismiss your feelings, criticize you, distance or check out. I’ve heard people describe hearing “get over it” or “don’t be weak” or “you’re too sensitive” from their partner if they are feeling sad or upset.
The result? The relationship suffers. There is disconnect, distance, unhappniness, less sex, more arguing or other symptoms. What most people really need is for their partner to listen to them, to be there, to be present and not judge your feelings as good or bad. All too often I work with couples where the wife or husband want to express sadness, disappointment and/or anger. Instead of understanding, the response is eye rolling, “don’t be weak”, “get over it”, or just dismissing the feelings completely. This is where couples find they grow very far apart and really need relationship help to reconnect.
As a relationship therapist who works with many couples, I see this pattern quite often. What I’m hoping to achieve in couples therapy is helping each person understand the importance of being there and what it actually looks like.
I assess what each person brings to the relationship from their past. Reflecting on the past helps men and women understand why they respond (or don’t respond) in certain way. For people that grew up in a household where it was hard for a mother or father to be there for them, someone who told him to stop crying, made them feel shame for expressing emotions, it is natural to defend against feeling this in your relationship as an adult. Becoming aware of how past relationships influence your ability or lack of ability to be there is where a good couples counselor can help.
If you want a loving, healthy and more secure marriage or relationship, you will need to learn how to be there. Be there in ways your spouse really needs. You want to let your partner or spouse know they matter, and let them know that they can count on you to be there. If you can do this successfully an ongoing, your connection will be and remain strong.
You will still have disagreements and not always be on the same page, all couples have to deal with these types of things. But knowing how to really respond rather than react is key. KNowing how to be there in ways that your partner needs is important.
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