The following Partner Problems: What You Can Do To Help When They’re Struggling, is a guest post by Rachel, a freelance content writer. Read more about her below!
None of us are perfect. It’s difficult to admit that sometimes, but we can’t be everything to our partners all the time. The same is true for them. It’s unreasonable to expect that one person can meet all our needs at any given moment. But sometimes, we know our partners are capable of more than what they’re delivering. In these moments, the first thing you can do is take a deep breath. It’s easy to get angry and want to point fingers. This is a good time to remind yourself that you have your off moments, too. We all do.
But there are some things you can do to help them improve.
Partner Problems: What You Can Do To Help When They’re Struggling
Control only what you can
In theory, we all know that we can only control our own behavior. But when our partners are struggling to hold their weight, it seems almost natural to try to control their actions. We complain, nag and even get angry. We do all these things when we already know those efforts are futile. Nagging and complaining are only likely to drive more of a wedge between you, making the problem worse. So instead of doing that, try exercising more control past problems over your own behavior. Replace nagging with some encouraging words.
Become a cheerleader
If you’re annoyed that your partner isn’t doing the dishes, it’s really difficult to cheer him on. But as the old saying goes,
…you catch more flies with honey.
Before you utter words of disappointment, think about how often you praise your partner. There must be something he’s doing right. Tell him. We should shoot for a good balance between words of praise and words of disappointment. If you’re always telling your partner about what he’s not doing and glossing over any efforts he makes, he’s less likely to want to do anything.
Bring up the past
Drudging up the past typically isn’t productive, but it can be if the past was productive. Talk about times when your partner was helping you and how good it made you feel. Talk about how you feel more connected than ever when you work together to get things done. It’s a way of offering praise for his past behavior in hopes that he can find his way back to that place. In this way, it’s almost like you’re setting a relationship goal. You want to be the couple you once were. In order to get back there, you must start working together again. Just be careful about bringing up any negativity from the past. Keep those, “you always do this” or “you’ve never done that” statements out of the conversation. Our goal is to be productive, and finger-pointing is never a good thing.
This is easier said than done, but when your partner isn’t living up to your expectations, there may be deeper issues. Instead of focusing on how you’re feeling about your partner’s current behavior, think about what may be driving the problems. Maybe your partner is struggling with work or having money issues that are bringing him down. Try to understand what’s motivating your partner to behave as he is. Motivations don’t necessarily excuse bad behavior, but they can help you understand why you are in your current position. Understanding your partner’s struggles can also help you overcome them together. If it’s money, maybe there’s something more you can do to help shoulder the burden.
Have a little faith
When your partner is struggling with something that’s outside of your relationship, remember that it’s not your problem to fix. Work problems are a great example of something we may get too involved with. Although your opinions should matter a great deal, it’s not up to you to decide whether your partner works late or demands a promotion. This is his problem to handle, so try not to control the outcome. Be there to listen and give advice when he asks, but try not to force your opinions on him. If you end up disagreeing on an action plan, it could cause even more friction in your relationship. Whether it’s with work, family, friendships or something else, trust your partner to do what’s best for himself and the family.
Know when to seek help
There are some problems that are too great for a couple to manage on their own. If your partner is dealing with addiction, serious anxiety or depression, or having suicidal thoughts, it’s time to get outside help. Problems such as these are likely to get worse without treatment. If your partner happens to have an addiction, for example, he will become more dependent on drugs or alcohol with every day that passes. When you’ve recognized a serious issue, talk to a professional counselor about finding the right solution for your family.
Address things head-on
Whether your partner is dealing with minor or major problems, the worst thing you can do is ignore them. Even small things can fester and get worse when you don’t address them. Just be sure that you’re addressing the problems in a healthy and productive manner. Talk about the symptoms of the problem to see whether you can get to the bottom of why it’s happening. From here, you can start to figure out a solution.
Work as a team
There’s a reason why you call your significant other your partner. It should be a very accurate descriptor. But that doesn’t mean you’re always going to be working completely in sync. It’s naturally for any team to lose their rhythm, and it happens for various reasons.
Before you let it frustrate you, remind yourself that you’re a team.
As such, it’s up to you to pick up the slack when your partner is struggling to keep up. It may feel unfair at the moment, but this is what we sign up for. It’s also the only way relationships can be successful. You may have to do a little extra at times, and you hope your partner will do the same when you’re in need.
Avoid keeping score
Many of us are in the habit of keeping a running tally of the things we’ve done for others. But this isn’t healthy. We do it because deep down, we’re afraid that someone will take advantage. It’s somewhat of a survival mechanism. If you’re always doing for someone else and they absolutely never return the favor, you’re in an unhealthy relationship. We know this, and we’re always on the lookout for the signs.
But once you’ve chosen your life partner, it’s time to back off of the scorecard. With any luck, you’ve chosen a partner who does love and support you in many ways. If this is the case, stop worrying about every little thing. What happens if your partner gets seriously ill? How does the scorecard look then, and what will you do about it? Naturally, there will be times when you have to do more of your share. You may even be tested so much that your partner would never be in a position where they can repay you.
On the other hand, maybe you handle the brunt of the work now and your partner may be tasked with caring for you and the household responsibilities later. Relationships require a long-game strategy and “tit for tat” logic does not apply. Serious illness is an extreme example, of course, but if you apply this kind of thinking to your everyday life, you may see how damaging that scorecard can be.
When your partner is exhibiting problem behavior, there’s usually something at the root of it. Sometimes, it may even stem from something you’ve done. Listen to what your partner is saying about your behavior and how you may have hurt his feelings or pride. You don’t have to respond immediately. Most of us have trouble accepting criticism, so take your time to think about your partner has said. Walk away from it for a while and then consider if there could be any truth behind his comments. Is there anything you could have done differently? The best thing you can do is to give your partner a platform to safely discuss these things.
Don’t get defensive.
If you must remain completely silent to accomplish this, do so. It’s better to think about your response before things escalate into an argument and any problems get worse.
Take time for yourself
There are times in every relationship when you’ll need to be the rock. Your partner needs your support, and so he needs you to be strong and whole. You’re not going to get there if you’re running on fumes. Instead, take some time to take care of yourself. When you’re feeling fulfilled, you’ll be in a better position to support your partner and tackle any problems that may be brewing. If you’re married, you’ve already sworn to love each other through the good times and bad, and through sickness and health. These words are easy to speak but they can be difficult to practice. However, if you can do your best to be supportive of your partner through these issues, you’ll both be stronger for it.
Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego. She has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles and is currently writing for Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.
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