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Being supportive in stressful times

The surprising benefits of helping your partner when they need it most

How do you and your partner fare when stress enters the relationship?

Does stress become a source of conflict and contention? Do you tend to fight more? Do you tend to withdraw from one another and feel more disconnected, frustrated, sad or angry?

Or does the stress become an opportunity for you and your partner to draw closer? A place where you find ways of supporting, comforting and caring for each other, where you put others needs ahead of yours, no matter how challenging the situation – now that would be the place to go. But how?

Do you see stress as an opportunity for being supportive?

Stress can cause considerable levels of irritability, anxiety, fatigue and other negative consequences. It shows up in our actions, our behavior and in our verbal and non-verbal cues – so, inevitably, it impacts both partners and the relationship. But the way in which you handle your partner’s stress can be a determining factor in which direction your relationship ultimately goes.

When we allow stress to control and overwhelm the state of our connection with our partners, it can create a sense of tension and disconnection. And if that is perpetuated, it can lead to a distant relationship, drained of the love, passion and joy that were once shared.

How being supportive opens up new levels of intimacy

When we routinely provide our partners with the emotional fulfillment they need by being supportive, we can create a new depth of love in the relationship. As ironic as it may seem, when stress makes your partner more ornery, argumentative or distant, that is when he or she needs you to show up the most. Aside from the inherent good derived from exhibiting patience, understanding and support, acting as a stress reliever can ultimately bring a number of unexpected benefits both to your partner and the relationship itself.

Tony believes in the power of relationships to where it can define a person’s entire life. A powerful relationship filled with support for each other can help you achieve new levels of success and fill you with the drive to do and achieve even more than you could imagine.

A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that those who said they have someone they can lean on for emotional support report lower stress levels and better related outcomes than those without emotional support. They are also less likely to say their stress levels increased over the past year, and less likely to let stress get in the way of making positive lifestyle changes.

Providing emotional support can also help your partner maintain a more positive outlook at work and even help them better understand how to be supportive. A study conducted by Florida State University professor Wayne Hochwarter revealed that “employees with high levels of stress but strong spousal support had 25% higher rate of concentration levels at work compared to those without the solid spousal backing.” They were also “33% more likely to have positive relationships with their colleagues and had a 20% higher level of job satisfaction compared to their peers.”

On top of work-related benefits, those with strong spousal support also experienced a number of personal bonuses. They reported 50% higher rates of satisfaction with their relationships, a 25% lower rate of post-work fatigue and 25% rate of parents more likely to be satisfied with the amount of time spent with their children. They also undoubtedly got a better understanding of how to be supportive as they went about their daily lives and activities.

How to be a supporting husband: What you need to know

Understanding how to be supportive as the more masculine partner can be tricky. You might wonder how you can be there for your partner while encouraging them amid all of what life can bring. You have a powerful opportunity as a husband to influence and speak to your partner in a unique way through your masculine energy.  

1. Get your talking points ready:

Your partner will find a powerful sense of reassurance and comfort through your words. Getting a feel for how to be supportive as a husband often comes down to becoming comfortable with speaking the right words of encouragement at just the right time. Worried about what to say? Come up with a script. Draft up a few talking points of how special your partner is and how proud you are as you watch them interact with family and friends. The more vivid and descriptive the imagery is, the better. A few quick words of encouragement followed with a hug is often just what your partner needs to feel valued and loved.

2. Understand when it’s time to step in:

On the flip side, sometimes the best method of being supportive is to just understand when it’s time for you to step in to allow your partner space to step back. When your loved one is right in the middle of a busy event or is rushing around trying to get something done, don’t be afraid as a husband to step in and help shoulder some of your partner’s load. Doing so can give the extra time and space needed to finish a task or allow them a much needed break.

What it looks like: How to be a supporting wife

As the feminine energy in the relationship, you have the ability to serve as a loving presence in your relationship with your partner. Speaking up as an advocate for your loved one can provide a great sense of encouragement and fulfillment during a stressful or tough time, especially when you can harness your femininity and understand how to be supportive.

1. Show you have faith:

Oftentimes, the easiest way to show support to your partner is to remind them that you believe in them. The words of a loving wife can give a great deal of comfort and assurance to your partner, especially if they’re said in a gentle and loving manner. You don’t have to feel like you need to say something complex. In fact, sometimes a heartfelt phrase can make all the difference to your partner who is caught up in a stressful situation.

2. Highlight accomplishments and achievements:

Wondering how to be supportive with your words besides using words of affirmation? Get specific. It can be easy during times of stress for your partner to lose sight of the bigger picture and their many skills and abilities. Many get stressed even more as they start to have tunnel vision about a specific project or task. Practice being supportive by highlighting what you love and admire about your partner, and how their skills and abilities can be used to keep moving forward amid stress.  

Transform your lives by knowing how to be supportive

At the end of the day, we can’t control whether or not our partner experiences stress or to what degree. The only thing we can control is ourselves: our actions, our reactions, the choices we make in our relationships each and every day. But by embracing the power you bring to creating the dynamic in your relationship, you can help turn a negative situation into a force for positive change.

Header image © MonkeyBusinessImages/Shutterstock

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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