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How To Support Your Partner Through Stress

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How To Support Your Partner Through Stress

Having a partner who’s going through a stressful situation or is experiencing long term stress can be upsetting and stressful for you too. Knowing what to say or do for the best when all you want to do is comfort them can be difficult, but it is possible to help in a supportive, loving way. Here’s how…

First up, it’s useful to know and understand the signs your partner gives off when they’re stressed. This might be outwardly, by being angry or shouty, or inwardly by being withdrawn or uninterested in food, sex or other pleasures. Whether your partner is male or female, we all deal with stress differently, so understanding your partners stress signals is useful.

We’re assuming here that you want to help your partner. Sometimes, relationships that are fraught with stress or where we deal with stress very differently need an extra hand from counselling, or a deeper look at their future. If you find that your partners’ stress is constant, angers you, makes you feel resentful or fearful or makes you feel like you don’t want to help (for whatever reason), it might be time to rethink the relationship, no matter how hard that is. 

Once you’ve recognised their signs, now is the time to listen, and to listen without judgement. More often than not, someone who is stressed needs a listening ear, rather than any advice or help. Validate their feelings by telling them you hear them and understand them, and avoid the temptation to offer a fix-all solution for the time being. We’re all different, and how you might deal with something may be different from their way. 

If it becomes obvious that they’d like your help and advice, try brainstorming some ideas together. Discuss all the options available to you and what you might need to do, in the short and long term, to support each option. Ask questions and listen to their answers. It might be that you could gently steer them to think about things from a different angle. 

Through all of this discussion, let go of the expectation that they’ll see things your way and choose one of your solutions to help. They might need your help to simply see things through their own fresh eyes. 

If it becomes apparent that there isn’t a simple, or even relatively simple solution, discuss the possibility of seeking other external help. This could be from their manager if it’s a work stress, or by speaking to a trained therapist. 

Finally, know that dealing with a partner who’s stressed isn’t easy. Hopefully if the tables turn and you become stressed, then they’ll be as helpful towards you. But your own self care is also important, so it’s right to make time to do things for yourself. Taking on the burden of a partners’ problem needs broad shoulders. If you’re not looking after yourself, you won’t be able to also look after them. Self-care certainly isn’t selfish, and perhaps now more than ever, you need to consider yourself too. 

Good luck. 

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