Why it’s OK to ask for relationship support

It isn’t always easy to ask for help, particularly with something as personal as your relationship. But trouble finds us all from time to time and, in those moments, it doesn’t hurt to get a bit of help before things get out of hand.

Even smaller issues – things like not being able to talk to each other, a lack of affection, or simply growing apart – need dealing with. Although they may not arrive with quite the same sense of urgency as bigger problems, it’s usually best to deal with them as early as possible. Taking early action can make it easier to reach a solution, and stop problems from getting much bigger [1].

How to ask for help


Asking for help can sometimes feel like an admission of failure, but this isn’t necessarily the case. By seeking support to resolve your difficulties, you’re taking responsibility for your actions and looking for ways to make the best decisions. This leaves you in a much better position to protect and strengthen your relationship than you would be if you allowed the issue to fester [2].

The first person you turn to might be a trusted family member or friend. This is often a good place to start, as it gives you a chance to explore the issue safely, and see it from a different perspective.

However, it can sometimes be more useful to speak with a professional relationship counsellor, as friends and family aren’t always equipped to deal with the issues at hand. A counsellor can help by offering emotional support, and encouraging you and your partner to see things from each other’s point of view. This can allow you both to see how you might be contributing to the issue and what you can do to help move things forward.

Asking your partner for support


Support doesn’t always have to come from outside. There will be times when you and your partner can just support each other. Perhaps there’s something you need, or maybe you’d like their support in improving or developing an aspect of your relationship.

There are two ways you can ask for help. One is to huff and sigh until they notice you need help, and the other is to come straight out and tell them what the problem is. It may not surprise you to learn that the second one has proven to be more useful. When you’re direct, your partner will find it easier to give you what you need, and you will feel more supported. This can also make it easier to ask for support the next time you need it, starting off a positive cycle of mutual support.

Keep talking to each other, try to be direct and, in those instances where you do need to argue, try to do it constructively.

References


[1] Hawkins, A. J., Willoughby, B. J., & Doherty, W. J. (2012). Reasons for Divorce and Openness to Marital Reconciliation. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53(6), 453–463.

[2] Ramm, J., Coleman, L., Glenn, F., & Mansfield, P. (2010). Relationship difficulties and help-seeking behaviour: Secondary analysis of an existing data set. OnePlusOne.

[3] Don, B. P., Mickelson, K. D., & Barbee, A. P. (2013). Indirect support seeking and perceptions of spousal support: An examination of a reciprocal relationship. Personal Relationships, 20(4), 655–668.

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