Support can be seen in many shapes and sizes and each couple creates support that works for them. What is equally important is the ability for each person in the relationship to recognize what they need and to be able to ask for it.
It’s always interesting to watch the dynamic between couples and see how they complement one another. Does their energy level balance out? Do they seem to listen to – and hear – each other? Do they encourage each others' choices? Are they able to exist independently yet have a “team” mentality when working through challenges?
In order to be able to really support each other it is important to understand that there are two things we are discussing here and both are equally important: understanding yourself and supporting your partner .
How would you complete this sentence: “I feel someone cares when they…” Do you know what makes you feel better when you are down? What do other people do that makes you feel good about yourself? Have you ever taken the time to recognize what you crave when you want to be acknowledged?
What does support for your ideas/goals look like? Is it an encouraging word? Is it someone to process your ideas with? Is it someone who will complete a task with you? Knowing what you need makes it easier to ask for it from the people you love.
If you know what you need, bravo! You are already steps ahead of many! But if not, how do you go about learning this about yourself? You, as an individual, bring something to any relationship you are a part of. And the more you are aware of your needs the easier it is to search them out when needed. If you have not taken the time to understand what you need, it can be daunting. You have to love yourself enough to know that having this knowledge is vital to maintain positive relationships – both with others as well as yourself.
With self-understanding comes acceptance and with these tools you enter into a healthy relationship. When two people bring their self-understanding and love they are able to create a beautiful duet of complementing colors: knowing yourself well enough to understand how to stay in tune while learning to work in harmony with your partner.
Supporting your partner:
When you have an understanding of your needs you are better able to communicate those with your partner and when they know what they need it makes expressing needs and desires an easier path. Supporting each other also becomes easier when your communication invites decisions that are made by the two of you, together. Choices become easier when both of you agree. Do you continue to share your goals with each other? If these goals start to shift away from what you once thought you wanted how do you express these changes with each other?
If you and your partner are committed and determined to succeed for the long term, take the time to stay in touch with goals and opinions. Practice communicating with smaller topics so you can tackle the larger items together. And even when there is a change to the "original" goal, if you are in the habit of communicating these goals and desires, expressing the change becomes easier and experiencing support is more likely.
Perhaps a more challenging perspective is when you see your partner changing and being supportive is a difficult task. You have been comfortable with the person you “knew” for so long and now they are changing the game by changing their goals and preferences! Fear can make us do strange things and that includes hurting those we love. Are you aware that there may be fear related to changes you see? Or perhaps something more? Are you simply worried about the change in your partner or are these changes now affected who you are as an individual? What is it about your partner’s choices that is making it difficult to support them?
If you find you are unable to support your partner's choices, perhaps taking a moment to recognize your own perspective is in order, again. Perhaps you are, in fact, supporting them but they don’t realize it. What if one, or both, of you hasn't completed the step we mentioned above? Are you both aware of what support for each other looks like? Or perhaps you don’t agree with your partner’s choices. If this is the case you must make sure you are aware of why you cannot support them. And if you are aware of why support is not possible communication is key to expressing these thoughts in healthy, and loving, ways.
Support from the one you love can make even the most difficult task seem possible. If your partner is the person you intend to be with for the long term you may find that taking the time to support them, as well as explaining to them what support for you means, can make a world of difference in a relationship that will be ever changing.