During periods of change and stress, it can be challenging to support your romantic partner. Often, we’re so focused on nurturing our own goals and navigating ourselves through our own stress, we neglect to focus on others. And yet a committed relationship takes time, patience, and perpetual support, no matter how difficult the circumstances. Whether your partner is working toward a promotion, looking to pursue a new passion, or changing jobs, it’s important to know how and when to show up for them without losing sight of your own goals and well-being along the way.
Talk about each others’ highs and lows
Open communication creates healthier relationships. Making time to talk with your partner about both of your feelings, experiences, wants, and needs will ensure that both of you feel heard and neither one of you sense that your feelings are unvalued or invalid. The American Psychological Association says that healthy couples make an effort to check in with one another on a regular basis, and recommends taking time every day to discuss “deeper or more personal subjects to stay connected to your partner over the long term.” Try scheduling a regular sit-down meal (not just quick takeout on the couch in front of the TV) to discuss the high and low points of your day.
Don’t feel guilty about taking alone time
In some cases, individuals in committed relationships might feel hesitant about asking for alone time. When a partner is experiencing stress or needs extra support, you may hesitate to take some time to yourself. But taking time for self-reflection, the pursuit of your own goals, or to complete tasks individually can actually make your relationship healthier. Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D, tells Psychology Today that making time for “healthy solitude” not only creates the opportunity for honest self-assessment and self-acceptance, but also builds a habit of self-intimacy that can ultimately boost connectivity with your significant other. Alone time can create positive outcomes for both you and your partner, and give you the time and energy you need to show up for yourself and the one you love.
Prioritize time in a mutually-beneficial way
As we strive to maintain work-life integration, we’re often left wondering if we’ve made the right decisions when it comes to managing our time. Should I reschedule date night to get work done around the house? Is it OK to spend an extra hour with my partner when I have a deadline coming up? To make the most of your time, as well as your partner’s, it’s important to strike a balance between your to-do list and that of your significant other. Communicate openly about what each of you needs to achieve that week, and prioritize time in a way that is mutually beneficial for your responsibilities and your relationship. A study of successful executives in Harvard Business Review shows that they constantly collaborate with their partners and look to them to “help them keep their eyes on what matters” and “budget their time and energy.” Make each other aware of appointments and deadlines, and schedule things to do together when it is convenient for not one, but both of you.
At the end of the day, communication, compromise, and consideration will help you support your partner during a period of transition or unusually high levels of stress. These same skills will help them support you, too. Although it might not be easy, standing by your partner during changes can help both of you grow, together.
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