I’m having a hard time. I need you right now.
Here’s how you can support me while I navigate this hard season in my marriage:
1. If it sounds bad, tell me.
I might share something my partner did or said that’s really not OK, and I need you to be honest with me. Don’t gloss over it and pretend it’s not so bad.
A while ago, a friend shared details of a fight she’d had with her now-ex-husband. She said, “He threw something at the wall. He kicked a desk. We yelled at each other until 3 a.m. It really scared the kids.”
All I said was, “Wow, that’s so hard.” I was trying to be supportive and not make her feel bad but I owed her more honesty than that.
I wish I’d said, “Those behaviors are not OK. You deserve to be treated better than this.”
As the friend going through a hard time now, I notice how easily I forget what’s normal in a relationship. I need your (loving) perspective to keep me grounded.
2. But please don’t freak out.
Once I shared with a friend about my partner’s alcohol use. She immediately got big, scared eyes and I felt judged. “Are you OKAY?” she asked. I felt her condemning my partner and worrying about me.
Later she followed up with, “How’s [my husband’s] DRINKING PROBLEM?”
I never said it was a problem. Of course, it is, I just don’t want to hear that from her. I want her to ask, “How are you doing?” or “How are things going with your husband?”
Alcohol is a part of my marriage story, but it does not define my marriage or my partner. I need support, not judgment, I need to feel like you believe we can both grow and heal.
3. Make me feel like you want my marriage to succeed.
Now is the time to share success stories if you have any friends who struggled in their marriages and came out stronger. I don’t want to hear about happily divorced people right now. It may be the best choice for them, but I’m committed to my marriage and I want you to be, too.
If you truly think I’d be better off alone, say it with love, and move along to #4.
Right now I am only available for gentle honesty, love, encouragement, and candy.
4. Remember, keep your own boundaries.
I don’t want to weigh you down with my struggles, but I’m having a hard time noticing when I’ve dumped too much on you.
I need you to take as many days as you want to respond to my rambling, 30-minute Marco Polos. I need you to know it’s OK to say no to another dinner date with me. You don’t have to make up an excuse, just say, “I can’t make it this time.”
I understand and I love you for your honesty. When you take space to recharge, I know you’ll be able to show up for me authentically later.
5. Know that I am so, so grateful for you.
No matter what happens in my relationships, my girlfriends are here for me, and I love you all.