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SELF-HELP COLUMN

Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.


Support: How to Honor the Dignity of Your Partner
by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

Support 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 partner’s thoughts and feelings are valid and O.K. Support is the communication of your belief in and your commitment to the relationship.

Now here’s 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 partner’s problems. Such well-intended people are often confused when their partner responds negatively to their attempts at solving their problems for them. But solutions aren‘t 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 isn’t looking to you for solutions. Your partner is looking to you for one thing and one thing only—confirmation 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. There’s one thing and one thing only that’s on their
mind—experiencing the comfort of you taking the time to listen to your partner—not
the covert message which fixing communicates, “You are hopeless, helpless, and worthless.”

That’s 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. Isn’t it amazing that by doing nothing, you can really be doing SOMETHING!

Bridge Builder’s Checklist
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 partner’s feelings rather than talking your partner out of what they’re feeling.
5.) Commit to being there for your partner rather than withdrawing from your partner.
6.) Commit to recognizing your partner’s worth rather than identifying your partner’s faults.

For more information about how to support rather than fix your partner, read chapter 4 (Support) in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. free online book, Building Better Bridges: Creating Great Relationships With the People Who Matter Most.

G.B.U.

Steve



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