Yes, you want your partner to be good looking, to be strong and smart and whatever else is on your list. But there is one, more subtle factor, that is significantly important. And that is the ability to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. And when they see you may be struggling, they find ways they can support you. Even better, they anticipate your weakness coming to the fore, and they act to mitigate it.
Understanding a partner in subtle ways and helping them navigate through difficulties is an intimate act that signifies a really good relationship.
Do you know your partner’s strengths and weaknesses? When you know your partner in very specific ways, you can help them in very specific ways. For example, I have a friend whose husband is not good with big parties. Too bad, because she loves them! Give her a big cocktail party and she radiates happiness. She finds it fun. He finds it torture. Too many people and too much small talk.
Can you find solutions that work for you both? It’s easy to say she should go, and he should stay home, which is a solution for them sometimes. But sometimes it’s better if they both go, but they find a way for him to be in a more solitary situation. Maybe he helps with the barbeque away from the mayhem of the crowd. Or maybe he can be excused to go in the den and watch the ballgame for a bit. She finds a way to accommodate his distaste for crowds and he finds a way to let her enjoy them. In great relationships, partners find solutions to accommodate each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Do you know how to alleviate your partner’s anxieties? Everyone has anxiety about something. I have a friend who moved with her husband from a big city to the top of a mountain in a rural area. It turned out, the isolation freaked her out, and shortly after they settled into what they both thought was their idyllic mountain home, she had a panic attack. She dismissed it as foolishness, but he took note. The next time she had a panic attack in that house, he made a decision. He put their house on the market and they moved into town at the very next opportunity. She hasn’t had a panic attack since.
Are you aware of your partner’s attachment style? People have different ways they need to be supported by their partners. It depends a lot on a person’s attachment style. If your partner is anxious that you may not be with them, mentally or physically, they need to be reassured that indeed, you will be there for them. That they’ll never have to be alone. That you two are a team and that you’ll always be behind your partner, supporting him. If your partner has an avoidant attachment style, then he needs to feel he can operate autonomously. He can be strong if you encourage his autonomy and support him.
Often people have a healthy mix of both anxious and autonomous attachment styles. People in great relationships know when to stand close to their partner and assure them they won’t leave their side, and when to stand aside and encourage their partner to stand strong by himself. Knowing when to use what approach to soothe and support your partner is something you learn by living together and observing each other. It’s an act of love.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact