I am puzzled by people who are not deeply invested in supporting their partner.
Few of us enter a relationship with the intention of going unsupported. “I want to be in a relationship with you so that you can avoid helping me or so that you can tell me how problematic my ideas and desires are.” No. We enter relationships to partner, to support, and to be supported. This support is a critical piece in creating a loving culture in our relationships. However, this is often forgotten.
A conversation may look like this: One partner says, “I’d like us to travel to see my parents this weekend,” and the other partner says, “I don’t think that we should do that.” An argument may ensue. Depending on the couple, the end of the verbal communication may mean that the initiating partner will be traveling to see their parents this weekend on their own (with or without the children). Or it may mean that they will not go because their partner does not support the idea; or perhaps they will go despite one partner being angry. Whichever outcome follows, there is a tone and a culture, of minimal support surrounding this initiative.
In a loving relationship, we are charged with starting at a “yes” and with being supportive. We are charged with figuring out how we can assist our partner with whatever they wish to see happen or to create. And given that we chose our partner, there is a general understanding that they are reasonable.
Yet many of us find ourself working in the opposite direction. We look for a reason why we are unable to be supportive. Why the project won’t work or the initiative shouldn’t be done. This is unloving.
If our partner has taken time to develop the idea they brought to the table, to shoot it down is to dishonor all that it takes to bring forth a concept. It takes away from the the courage that must be summoned. The doubt that must be overcome. The challenges that will be encountered.
If my wife wants us to go on a vacation every month, whether or not we have the money, the time, or (if applicable) the babysitting, I will start my response to her with “Alright.” Then I may delve into the logistics, with one or more of the below noted questions. And even though there may be questions, my intention is to be supportive. My intention is not to tell her how burdensome such an effort will be. I may ask:
- How will we pay for a vacation every month?
- Are the children invited?
- Who will watch the children if they are not invited?
- How often will the children be invited?
- What do you mean by a vacation? Does checking into a local hotel room count as a vacation at least some months?
- Is a nearby city doable?
- Does every month mean every calendar month or every four weeks?
- If it is every four weeks, would you consider every calendar month?
- If it is every calendar month, would you consider every five weeks instead?
Again, my intention is not to demonstrate how unrealistic it is to undertake a schedule of this nature. It is to simply to create a workable plan and to see her dream or desire fulfilled. Perhaps, based on the questions that we each raise and work through, the scope of her initiative may change. Perhaps it won’t. Either is fine. And most importantly, we will figure it out together.
When we support our partner, we invest in them, in our relationship, and in ourself. We invest in their imagination. We invest in their leadership. We invest in the possibilities they birth. And we invest in our relationship because, again, we are in relationships to be supportive and to take care of one another.
Finally, when we support our partner we invest in ourself because we are developing our superpowers. We are developing the superpower of rising to the occasion that is before us. Our creativity will grow and flourish. Resources will appear that we did not know existed, and we will demonstrate to our partner that what matters to them, matters to us, because they matter to us.
Consider this quote I have seen attributed to both William Hutchison Murray and Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe:
Until one is committed, there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising to one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would come their way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Let’s boldly commit to supporting our partner and to giving life to the possibilities that matter to them. To do so is very loving.
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Each week, Frank Love hosts Zoom support group meetings that assist women and men as we work to create a loving culture in our relationships. Calls occur from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST and can be accessed at FranksWeeklyCall.com.
- Tuesdays – Black Women: Creating a Loving Culture in Our Relationships
- Thursdays – Black Men: Creating a Loving Culture in Our Relationships
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.