Save Your Marriage by REALLY Supporting
By Susie and Otto Collins
Ali has rarely felt truly supported by her husband Eric. And
Eric feels the same way about Ali.
But now that they are trying to save their marriage and
rebuild trust, learning how to really be there for one
another is of vital importance.
One reason why Ali turned to another man and had an
emotional online affair was because she felt so alone and
disconnected from Eric.
This is not an excuse for Ali-- she regrets that the
emotional affair happened-- but it did play a role.
The trouble is, both Ali and Eric thought that they were
So why didn't it work?!
Have you ever felt that you were doing your best to offer
support to your spouse, but he or she claims you were not?
A classic relationship challenge is when one or both people
crave support and can't see that the other person is trying
and giving support...it's just that it's in an
unrecognizable form to the intended receiver.
Ask for what you want.
What is almost always at the bottom of such a dilemma is a
breakdown in communication.
Perhaps you don't feel comfortable asking specifically for
what you want from your mate.
This could be because, somewhere down the line
in your life, you were taught that it's selfish or
inappropriate to let another person know what you need.
Or, it might be that you feel like you've tried to ask for
support in detailed ways but were met with "deaf" ears.
Ali told Eric that she really needs him to be home by 5pm
every night of the week, for example.
For her, re-connecting with each other over dinner at a
regular time is important. When Eric joined an
after-work soccer league that practices a couple of evenings
a week, she felt shunned and unsupported.
Whether you are having difficulty actually asking for the
kind of support you want or if you feel like your requests
are being ignored, you are back to square one...feeling
alone in your marriage.
We recommend that you stay in touch with the specific way
that you'd like to be supported.
What does support look like to you?
It might be someone to hug and hold you close when you feel
down; it could be a person who will listen with attention to
what you have to say and offer advice and encouragement.
Support can also take the shape of overtly expressed
appreciation for who you are and what you do.
Be specific, but don't put your need for support completely
on the shoulders of your partner.
There might be other people in your life-- including your
own self-- who can help you to feel more appreciated,
encouraged or bolstered.
Just because your partner is not your sole source of
support, it doesn't mean that your marriage is in trouble.
In fact, when you feel supported in a wider sense (from your
own self, friends, extended family and others), you can more
easily acknowledge and
receive the support that your mate IS giving you.
Give and ask for support with love.
When Ali asked Eric to support her by coming home every
night at 5pm so that they can have dinner together and then
he joined an after-
work soccer league, at first Ali was upset and hurt.
This initially seemed like yet another time that Eric was
NOT there for her.
She calmed down and was able to see that re-connecting every
evening with Eric is what's most important-- not necessarily
having dinner together at 5pm.
When Ali was able to come from a place of love and a desire
for connection, she realized that she can be flexible and
still end up feeling supported by Eric.
They reached an agreement that on nights
when Eric has soccer, they will have dinner together at 7pm.
This actually frees up time for Ali to fit in a run after
Listen carefully to yourself. What is the root need of your
request for support? Figure that out and you can create more
Within this expanded space, you and your spouse can more
easily find places where you CAN support each other.
From there, you can also move closer together.