You can enjoy greater well-being and make your marriage more satisfying by helping your spouse to grow and change. It turns out that you’re more likely to pursue rewarding challenges if you have a supportive partner.
That’s the lesson from a recent study by Carnegie University. In this study, researchers divided couples into two roles: a decision-maker and a support provider. Then, they gave them a choice between completing a simple puzzle or competing for a cash prize in a public speaking competition.
Spouses with an encouraging partner were much more likely to take on the greater challenge. Plus, when they were surveyed 6 months later, they reported increased personal growth and happiness, along with stronger relationships.
The study also identified what behaviors you need to be helpful and encouraging rather than too pushy or passive.
Discover the 3 essential elements of effective support, and how to use them.
Show Your Enthusiasm
Marriage gives you an opportunity to cheer each other on. Let your enthusiasm shine through. As a bonus, it will make your relationship more fun.
Try these activities to show enthusiasm:
- Share meaningful activities. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when you love what you’re doing. Figure out your top priorities and devote your time to them, individually and together.
- Ask questions. Do you find it hard to take an interest in your spouse’s job or hobbies? Becoming more knowledgeable could stimulate your curiosity. Ask them to give you an introduction to corporate litigation or gourmet cooking.
- Give specific praise. Compliments mean more when you make them substantive. Tell your spouse precisely what it is you admire about their communication skills or leadership style.
- Stay energized. How can you sound perky when you’re tired and hungry? Practice self-care by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.
- Manage stress. Learning to relax will also help you to keep your spirits up. Set aside time to meditate and pray. Listen to gentle music or go for a walk.
Most worthwhile projects require effort and persistence. Having a reassuring partner can help you hang in there until you achieve results.
Try these ways to reassure your partner:
- Remember your purpose. When obstacles arise, encourage your spouse to think about the reasons behind their work. Talk about your values and set goals that you both believe in.
- Examine your assumptions. Many barriers are internal. Provide a sounding board so your spouse can recognize and overcome self-limiting beliefs that may be holding them back. Strive to be a role model for going beyond your comfort zone and making constructive changes.
- Review your accomplishments. Go over the things that you and your spouse have accomplished together. You’ll feel more confident and empowered.
- Get organized. Physical and mental clutter can trigger anxiety and slow you down. Maintaining an orderly home and creating efficient routines will give you both more peace of mind.
Focus on What You Have to Gain
It’s easier to take risks when you think about the benefits. Cultivate a cheerful outlook. Your hopefulness is contagious so your spouse will pick up on it too.
Turn these actions into daily habits:
- Look on the bright side. Find the advantages present in any situation. Keep a list of the things you and your spouse have to be grateful for, including each other.
- Reframe challenges. Look at setbacks as opportunities to learn. Give your partner a chance to express their feelings, and then move on. Direct your energy to coming up with solutions.
- Adjust your environment. What types of influences surround you and your spouse? Be selective about the media you consume and search for inspiring stories. Develop a strong network of family and friends you can rely on.
Supporting your spouse can make you happier and more successful as a couple and as individuals. Nourish your relationship with enthusiasm, reassurance, and optimism.