How to be a shoulder to lean on for your spouse and why it’s so important.
It’s the most famous part of the traditional wedding vow – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. There’s a good reason we make this vow to our partner on our wedding day – having someone that will always be there to love and support us in hard times is one of the main reasons we have long-term relationships. The fun stuff is easy, it can be done with anyone. But it’s the difficult times where true love and life partnership really counts.
There’s no such thing as a problem-free life. Whether it’s anxiety about a bad haircut or mourning the death of a loved one, throughout our life we experience small and big (and everything in-between) problems that are scary to go through alone.
The intimacy of marriage is like no other relationship and no one can comfort someone more than their partner. Here are some things to consider when your partner needs a shoulder to lean on:
WHETHER BIG OR SMALL
There will be times when your partner needs a shoulder to lean on for both big and small problems. It’s important to respect and not overlook or downplay their small problems. A small problem for one person can feel like a major problem for another – we all have our “weak spots”. In fact, it’s the support you show for the small problems that make our partner feel confident that you will be there for them when there is a big problem. So, see it as an opportunity to show your love and support.
Sometimes there are problems that you cannot solve for your partner. For example, the death of a family member (or yes, even a bad haircut). Being there for your partner does not require you to practically solve their issue, or even offer advice. Often the best thing you can do is to be present, to listen, and even to just sit with them in silence. Sometimes simply being there is enough.
Sometimes when our partner is facing a crisis, we might wonder why they are having such a difficult emotional response. If you feel that your partner is “over-reacting”, remember that they are genuinely feeling whatever emotions they are feeling. Often a perceived “over-reaction” is a sign that the problem they are experiencing is connecting them to a past hurt.
For example, your husband may be tearful about a good friend that dismissed an opinion of his. At first, this might seem like someone simply hurt his pride, but it could very well be that it brought up feelings from his childhood of a parent not allowing him to voice his opinions. And that is why he is having such a hard time processing his emotions. If you feel this could be the case, it’s good to calmly ask questions like “how did that make you feel?” and “Can you remember a time in the past when you felt like that?”. Show your interest and respect by helping them think through their feelings.
If your partner needs a shoulder to lean on, assure them with affirmative words that you love them and that you are always there for them. Tell them that they can confide their feelings with you and that you don’t mind if they need to talk late into the night. Often we feel bad for “bothering” our partners with our problems and are also scared about being vulnerable. So assuring your partner that you are there to support them in whatever they are going through, is a wonderful and intimate gift.
TAKE OFF THE LOAD
When your partner is in need of support, they often need to focus on processing their emotions. Show your support by helping with small things so they can feel less burdened. Offer to run an errand for them, tell them not to worry about the housework for the day. If you have an arrangement with friends, find out if they would like you to cancel. This shows that you prioritize them over anything else.
There will be several times in your relationship where both you and your partner will be faced with life’s major problems. Your support during these times will be remembered for life – in some respects, being a shoulder to lean on, can be your most intimate of moments.
Below are some great books that we can recommend for understanding and helping your partner:
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
Being your partner’s shoulder-to-lean-on is ultimately what makes you “their person”. When the opportunity arises to be there for them, of course, we do not want them to be struggling with something, but we can also see it as a wonderful opportunity to show that we care for them, love them, and are a devoted partner that they can trust.