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BlogA Way to Have Our Partners’ Back

January 4, 2022by Frank Love0

Many of us revel in the thought of having our partner’s back. We claim we’ll do anything in our ability to support our “ride or die.” However, as with most things, it is easier said than done. We can say that we support our partner and/or their vision or wishes; but our will or ability to actually do it can be fleeting.

Having our partner’s back means being supportive. It can mean an exuberant willingness to pay for the ice cream that our partners want to take the family to get, even though we didn’t think it was a good idea. It can mean being happy to drive to the theater and pay to see the movie of a genre that we hate and that our partners love. It can mean getting up early in the morning to do something that we believe to be completely unnecessary, simply because it’s our partners vision to do so.

I recently supported a couple as they worked through a turbulent experience. River wanted the two of them to travel for the weekend. Jordan had no interest in doing this. However, out of a desire to appear being supportive, Jordan agreed to join River for a weekend excursion.

Along the way, they experienced a few notable challenges. While driving to the resort, they got a flat tire. They changed the tire and kept going. But they arrived at the resort an hour later than expected, and the on-site restaurant, where they had missed their reservation to eat, was now closed. They had to go into town and purchase food to make their own meal (without an oven or stove) in order to make it through the evening with a full stomach.

Then, while stopped at a red light on their way home from the resort, their car was hit from behind. It wasn’t a major accident—everyone walked away unscathed, and they didn’t even feel the need to exchange insurance information. But none of these occurrences make for an ideal weekend.

Each time an undesirable event happened, Jordan would comment, “I knew we should have stayed home” or, “This would never have happened if we had been home,” and “We would have saved money, hassle, and time if we hadn’t acted upon your bright idea.”

Comments like these can be and, according to River, were very hurtful. Not only did River have to navigate the problems of a flat tire, ruined plans, and a car accident, River also had to deal with the recurring display of Jordan’s lack of support.

I have heard individuals speak poorly of their partners’ decisions, even when they acknowledge that they were in agreement, though perhaps tepid. And the justification for the lackluster support is often “I didn’t want to do it anyway.” If the complaining party’s irritability becomes a topic of discussion, they may claim, “Well, I’m still with you even though I’m complaining.”

We often do not understand the damage our unsupportive comments can have on our partners and our partnerships. Is there a difference between going out to dinner with someone who complains about the drive, the meal, the dessert, and the service versus going out to dinner with someone who is complimenting you, praising the drive, enjoying the food and the dessert, and being grateful for the service? Of course there is. I am not going to say that one is better or worse. However, my preference is to spend time with the person who is complimenting and praising instead of complaining. Whichever you prefer is your business; but please note: there is a difference.

If we sign on to a project, a trip, or whatever our partner has envisioned, let’s do our best to support them 100%, even when it’s not going perfectly. Let’s resist the opportunity to suggest we were justified in our initial hesitation. When we give snide commentary and diminishing remarks about our partner or their initiative, it hurts. It is unsupportive and unnecessarily critical.

Ironically, when we make diminishing remarks and give into “I told you so” sentiments, we demonstrate a shortsightedness. We close ourselves off to some of the positives that may have occurred from this trip.

An appreciation of the trip, restaurant, or bike trail that we have selected is loving and supportive. It may be the makings of a good story in the future . . . “Remember that time we caught a flat time on the way to XYZ? We were starving when we got there. Then someone hit us when we left! But we still had a great time!”

Which experience would you prefer if you were River?

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

Frank Love coaches individuals who are in (or wish to be in) a relationship on ways to be more loving. He is also the author of “Relationship Conversations You Don’t Want to Have (But Should Anyway)” and “25 Ways to Be Loving.” To schedule a free consultation, contact Frank at Frank@FrankLove.com.

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