There are 4 general ways of support:
Emotional support is all about empathy. It could look like offering physical comfort, listening well, validating and expressing empathy.
You might bring home a small gift to show that you have been thinking of them. Or bring them a hot cup of tea or coffee.
There are times that this is the only support that can be helpful.
Esteem support boosts your partner’s confidence. Verbally and specifically encouraging your partner shows them that you believe in them.
“Remember the last time you were in a similar situation and how well you did.You can do it again!”
“This is something you are so good at. Now it’s time to show the world.”
“I am so proud of what you have accomplished.”
“I believe in you.”
Informational support – otherwise known as advice – is the trickiest. The giver sees it as helpful, the other person receives it quite differently. It is the type of support where the most misunderstandings happen. Especially if it is unsolicited advice.
Needing support is vulnerable; it generally is not so comfortable to be on the needing end.
No one likes to be bossed around. That’s what unsolicited advice often feels like.
Tangible support might be the most practical. It’s taking over certain responsibilities to free up your spouse’s time or headspace to work on whatever they need to do.
“Would it be helpful if I pick up some dinner on my way home?”
“Would it be helpful if I took over carpool?
“Let me take the kids out of the house so you can work in quiet.”
NOTE: Don’t assume your spouse will just figure out what responsibilities to take over. Ask directly.
Different people feel supported in different ways.
Say what you want.
Your spouse wants to support you; they just need to know what kind of support you are seeking.
Tell your spouse what support you want.