Here’s How To Support Your Partner Through A Family Emergency, According To An Expert
Think of a time when you went through a difficult experience and someone was there to help you through it. They probably offered you a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and a hug to remind you that you're loved. These gestures can feel small, but they make a big difference. When in a romantic relationship, it's important to be willing to be there for your partner when they face their own difficult experiences. Knowing how to support your partner through a family emergency doesn't always come naturally to some, but empathy and love are good places to start. After all, mutual support is a key part of any healthy relationship.
But there's more to supporting your partner than just giving them a big hug. Your support could very well mean the world to them. "It's very important for most people for their intimate others, especially romantic or life partners, to be present and supportive during family emergencies," Grant H. Brenner, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and co-author of Irrelationship tells Elite Daily. "While there are some people who need less support than others, starting from a supportive position and asking your partner what they may need, and defaulting to providing support when it isn't clear what they need, is the most secure course of action."
Of course, you probably know that you need to be there for your partner, but knowing how to be there is a whole other story. Here's how to start.
1. Listen and be present.
Brenner says just being there for your partner is a good first step. "One great way to support your partner through a family emergency is to start with being a good listener," he says. "Hear them out, be caring and present, and serve as a sounding board to help them think through the situation to support good decision-making."
Everyone copes with stress differently, and if your partner starts by talking it out, knowing how to be a good listener is beyond helpful.
2. Take care of them.
Another way you can support your partner during a family emergency is to act like a care-taker of sorts. "Making sure your partner's basic needs are met is a good way to provide support as well," Brenner adds. "Make sure they are well-fed, offer gentle reminders to take breaks and get rest, provide opportunities to help maintain regular routines in general, maintaining normality and normalizing reactions as much as possible. This will help support your partner's overall resilience."
Make sure they're eating, sleeping, and functioning properly. This can be a huge help for someone who's consumed by stress or grief.
3. Pick up the slack.
When a family emergency happens, a lot of day-to-day tasks can fall to the wayside. So, picking up dinner, cleaning, or other doing little tasks that need doing around the house can be helpful. "Offering material assistance can be very helpful," Brenner explains. "If you partner isn't available to do something important they would usually do, offer to help out."
Additionally, don't be afraid to step in and help them in a more direct way. "If they might benefit from your specific expertise in helping with the family emergency, make yourself available and offer to help, without being too controlling or insistent" he adds. "Keep good boundaries."
4. Stay by their side.
Most importantly, don't leave your partner during a family emergency. "Abandoning your partner in her or his time of needs is one of the worst things we can do to someone we say we love," Brenner says. "While we may be with people who value a high level of self-sufficiency, they may be more vulnerable underneath the surface than they appear."
Even if your relationship was rocky and you might have had your own romantic struggles before the emergency, Brenner adds that it's a good idea to set aside any issues until things calm down. "Taking things personally, bringing up relationship issues during a family emergency, making it more about you than your partner — that's a huge misstep, and one which is often permanently damaging to a relationship's health," he says. "We don't tend to forget or forgive very easily when people abandon us when we need them the most — even if we push them away."
Being a support system for your partner during a family emergency really is all about being present. Do what you can, respect their boundaries, and show your love, as Brenner says. At the end of the day, they'll appreciate it more than you can probably imagine.