|Support: How to
Honor the Dignity of Your Partner
by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
is to a relationship what water and air are to you and me. Support is the communication of
understanding, caring, and concern for your partner. Support is the communication of the
fundamental belief in the capabilities of your partner. Support is acknowledging that your
partners thoughts and feelings are valid and O.K. Support is the communication of
your belief in and your commitment to the relationship.
Now heres where things go wrong when people try but fall
short of being supportive. Support is oftentimes confused with solving, fixing, or taking
care of their partners problems. Such well-intended people are often confused when
their partner responds negatively to their attempts at solving their problems for them.
But solutions arent support. Solutions are disguised attempts at talking your
partner out of their feelings in order to enhance your own level of personal comfort.
No, your partner isnt looking to you for solutions. Your partner is looking to you
for one thing and one thing onlyconfirmation that you understand them. Not that you
can analyze and explain your partner to themselves. Not that you can fix their problems.
Not that you can take care of them. Theres one thing and one thing only thats
mindexperiencing the comfort of you taking the time to listen to your
the covert message which fixing communicates,
You are hopeless, helpless, and worthless.
Thats why your
support feels so good to your partner. By being supportive, by being there for your
partner, your partner will feel more connected and less lonely, more honored and less
patronized, more worthwhile and less insignificant. Isnt it amazing that by doing nothing,
you can really be doing SOMETHING!
1.) Commit to understanding rather than analyzing your partner.
2.) Commit to listening to rather than giving advice to your partner.
3.) Commit to honoring rather than patronizing your partner.
4.) Commit to acknowledging your partners feelings rather than talking your partner
out of what theyre feeling.
5.) Commit to being there for your partner rather than withdrawing from your partner.
6.) Commit to recognizing your partners worth rather than identifying your
For more information about how to support rather than fix your partner, read chapter 4 (Support)
in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. free online book, Building Better Bridges: Creating
Great Relationships With the People Who Matter Most.