9 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner

It took me almost a decade to do 7 & 8

Today I welcome Philip Swindall, another “regular guy” working hard to become a better and better husband. He also wrote show notes for a few episodes of the Confessions of a Terrible Podcast. 

If you're interested in my story about becoming a more supportive partner in my marriage, you can pick up signed copies of my book, Confessions of a Terrible Husband, right here or unsigned and Kindle versions on Amazon or nook or unsigned print copies at BN.com.

9 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner. (It took me almost a decade to do 7 & 8.)One of the most common questions asked of relationship experts is:

“What can I do to keep the relationship vital and strong?”

An important part of the solution is providing the emotional support they crave.

Through reading books, listening to experts present their information, and just paying attention, I've discovered nine different ways I can improve my ability to support my wife.

These nine ways can form a solid foundation upon which you can build a world-class relationship.

Start applying these nine strategies in your relationship today and you'll be well on your way to becoming a truly supportive partner:

1. Listen with intensity.

When you listen, it shows you’re interested in what’s on your partner’s mind. What do they yearn for? What do they love to do? If you listen, you’ll know.

My wife’s sister is profoundly deaf. Because of that, I’ve learned some tips for paying attention. Look them in the face when they speak to you. That's rule number one.

2. Think of your partner first as much as possible.

What restaurant might they like to go to this evening? Is there an activity they’ve recently said they wished they could do? When you consider your partner’s wants and needs, your partner will feel the love.

You’ll never go wrong putting the needs and wants of someone you love before your own needs. After all, that’s the very definition of love. A wise teacher once said, “greater love has no man than he who lays down his own life for another.” I truly believe he wasn't just talking about the end of someone's life, but also, the end of someone's selfishness for another.

3. Laugh together each day.

There’s something comforting and fun about laughing easily and often. Read them a joke you saw on Facebook. Tell them about something funny you read in the newspaper. Use a bit of self-deprecating humor. Find the humor in seemingly non-humorous happenings.

When my wife and I were dating, she complimented my sense of humor and ability to make her laugh. But, she was even more impressed when I told her that I thrive on the sound of laughter, “it's the most beautiful music anyone can create.”

Additionally, laughing with others provides a deep emotional connection with them that breaks down barriers. It’s quite difficult to laugh with someone and still be angry at them.

4. Pay attention.

After living with someone for several years, it’s easy to fall into patterns of doing your own thing and being more focused on your own desires.

Observing your partner enhances your awareness of where they are both physically and emotionally.

To avoid the “familiarity breeds contempt” syndrome, make it a point to learn something new about your partner every week. Turn it into a game. Saturday or Sunday morning, when you're laying in bed, discuss what it is that you've learned about the other. You'll be amazed what you'll find out about your partner, and about yourself.

5. Offer help frequently.

If your wife seems frazzled about preparing for overnight visitors arriving next week, offer to help her prepare. Inquire about what she wants to have done and do some of the tasks for her.

If your husband wants to take his buddy to lunch next week and show off the new car but doesn’t have the time to take it to the car wash, get it washed for him. Loving partners assist each other frequently. Be on the lookout for things you can do to help them.

6. Declare that you’re a team.

There will be opportunities for you to tell your spouse that you’re there for them. You can say something like, “We’re a team. You can count on me.”

Statements like these demonstrate your ongoing support.

Statements like these in front of other people plants your stake in the ground. You’ve declared your borders and boundaries, and pretty much threatened anyone to invade at their own risk.

7. If you’ve been less than supportive recently, bring it up.

Although this may be difficult, admitting that you failed to step in and be there for your partner shows them you’re able to recognize your missteps. Plus, you can reassure them that it won’t happen again.

Failure is not permanent. However, failing to learn from that moment of failure is.

8. Apologize.

Apologizing says that you see your error and realize that you hurt your partner.

The day I got married, my younger brother, who had been married for almost 20 years already (I was a late bloomer, I guess) gave me some important words to remember. And, while I know he was joking (a little), the advice hits home. Those words were, “yes dear, you’re right, I'm wrong, I'm sorry.”

Those eight simple words, spoken honestly, can be a humbling, yet cleansing, experience. Afterwards, you can continue the relationship with a clean slate.

9. Practice Honesty.

It’s very important to be honest with your partner. If you’re careful with your tone of voice and gently portray your honest thoughts and feelings, your relationship will thrive.

My wife will tell you that she is surprised that I’ve not made a reference to a pop song yet. So, here it goes. When Billy Joel was going through a troubling time in his first marriage, he wrote a very poignant song about the word “honesty”.

In it, he says, that “honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard, but mostly what I need from you.” We all need someone upon whom we can rely to tell us the truth, when it hurts and when it soothes. We need that.

At the same time, we need to learn to tell the truth in love. When you correct your child most effectively, it is with love in your heart, praying that they don’t make that same mistake again. The most ineffective correction, however, is when you're trying to prove your point, or are angry because they didn’t listen to you the first time.

Honesty, yes. Angry, no.

Your decision to be involved in an intimate, loving relationship was probably one of the most wonderful decisions you’ve ever made. Be supportive of your partner by putting these ideas into action.

Your relationship will be enriched beyond belief!

Phillip Swindall is a 50-year-old newlywed, having married for his first time at the age of 46. He has coached several of his married friends through the years as a supportive encourager who is committed to the experience of life-long, committed marriage relationships.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.