Hear Others' Advice.
Sometimes, it helps to learn what others do to alleviate relationship stress. There's no need to go through stressful times alone. Here are examples of what others might do to alleviate relational tension.
(We’ve made minor wording changes to maintain confidentiality.)
...When partners feel ANXIOUS:
"I find that it is very helpful to just lend a "listening ear". After he finally opens up and lets me know what is bothering him, often I remind him of how great of a person he is. I let him know that I will always be there to listen to what he needs to get off his chest. I also offer advice but I try to do this without being heavy-handed."
"I try whatever I can to comfort my partner. I offer to take him out to dinner, or maybe spend some time together watching a movie or playing a video game that he enjoys. I might also talk to him and ask him to say what he's feeling. I let him know I'm always going to be there for him, and that he's my number one priority."
"My partner has extremely high anxiety so when there is a situation where she is having an anxiety attack, I just hold her and tell her that it's going to be alright. I do not try to discuss anything with her or fix anything until the anxiety has passed, because if I tell her to calm down or pitch solutions right away it only makes the situation worse."
"Providing reassurance is really important, as is using the loving language that should go with being in a relationship. Showing that you care, even in small or minor ways, can go a long way. I like to send good morning and good night texts, and provide encouraging words or even write an occasional letter. I always just want to show that I am there for them."
"...emotional support is something I often need to do... [What] has worked so far has been to remind her of her worth - how she has succeeded and has so much to be proud of. Sometimes it's as simple as giving a reason why I love her. There are so many reasons and it makes her feel good to hear them - we do this and she needs this from time to time. Overall, I try to lift her back up and make sure that she is happy. Once she is out of the gutter, then we can tackle her problem - whatever it may be."
...When partners feel AVOIDANT:
"I wouldn't tell her this, but I would back off of her business, and try not to get myself too involved in unnecessary situations. I would tell her 'I respect you, and I want to know that I'm here for you if you ever need anything' or 'I fully understand how you feel, I know having your own space sometimes is a good thing.' I'll acknowledge her ways and not react by taking it too personally."
"I would tell him, 'I really admire how you handled that.' I love how he always has a positive outlook when it comes to grades or studying, and he makes others around him feel more positive. I respect his little quirks and do not mind helping out with things around the house but I also try to respect his level of comfort with things."
"When we are alone without a chance of being interrupted, such as on a walk together somewhere quiet or in bed together, I might bring up that he's been quiet and distant lately. I'll remind him that I'm here for him and that he can talk to me but he doesn't have to. I'll just make sure that he knows that I have his back."
"I'd act like my normal self, trying to bring about a laugh, or help us forget about a bad situation, or maybe loosen up tension and get them to open up so I can help."
"My partner has a strong sense of independence and wants to do things on her own. When she gives pushback on my offer to help, I usually say something like 'I don't need to help you, but I'd like to.' The key idea is that I let her do her own thing. She knows I'm there for her when she needs me, and I'll come through at key moments. But day to day, my giving her space lets her know that I am there for her. If it seems right, I casually offer advice without forcing help. There has not been moment where she failed because of my inability to help."
"If my partner has any problem, I just help without saying anything about it. 'Invisible' support is the best way for him. If I make it obvious that I am helping him, he becomes unhappy and rejects my help."
"When he is struggling with something, I ask a bunch of leading questions until he reaches the conclusion that I would have given him. This makes it sound like it was his idea."
...When partners are experiencing STRESS:
"I help him lay out a a step-by-step plan that he and I work on together. Stress is one of the main problems and a plan can help relieve some of that stress."
"I acknowledge that something is wrong and ask him to help me understand her frustration. I try to imagine being in the situation myself. I also provide comfort, help him relax, and tell him that no matter what I am here for him."
"Let's say my partner is experiencing a severe amount of stress to the point where he is struggling to handle it. I would ask him to explain as best he could. From there, I would help my partner put together a plan or strategy to overcome the stress, while also suggesting the two of us spend an evening together if possible."
...When partners need SUPPORT:
...WHEN PARTNERS NEED SUPPORT:
"Give her a hug first, for as long as she needs it, then reassure her that together you’ll work through the issue. I'd tell her that there isn't anyone else I'd rather be with than her, and she has been there for me when I needed similar reassurance."
"When my partner is stressed out, I do things for her on my own, like I will go get her mail or get her favorite thing to eat. My strategy is to divert her and take her mind off of things, at least enough for me to lift her mood up."
"I always say thank you to my partner for what she has helped me do. I say good words about her every day. When she helps me or other people, I say things like, 'I am so lucky to meet such a great gal like you.' I let her know how much I appreciate her."
"I take my partner's hand to calm him and reassure them that things will be okay in the end, and that things do get tough, but in the end we have each other and we'll help each other get through whatever comes our way."
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