By Barton Goldsmith - Scripps Howard News Service
Emotional support comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Having the desire and ability to be giving to your partner is far more important than doing it exactly right. Here are some tips to help you nourish each other's hearts.
1. Touch each other often. Most people are touch-starved. Holding hands, walking arm in arm and cuddling on the couch are just some of the simple ways to share this very powerful experience.
2. Be respectful of your partner's feelings. If the one you love is dealing with a loss or a disappointment, let him or her know that you are available to talk. Also, letting your partner have the space he or she needs to process feelings is a way of showing that you care.
3. Give small gifts - just because. Being surprised every once in a while helps to keep the romance alive and lets your mate know you think he or she is someone special.
4. Compliment your partner in front of others. Saying nice things about your mate in the presence of friends or associates is one of the most supportive things you can do.
5. Disagree with your partner in a kind and loving way. Never judge or reject your mate's ideas or desires without first considering them. If you have a difference of opinion, that's fine, as long as you express it with kindness.
6. Say "I love you." Actually hearing it is important to many people. Sure, there are many ways you show your love, but actually saying the three little words will reassure your partner.
7. Never ignore your loved one's presence. There is nothing more hurtful than being treated like you don't exist. Even if you're angry at the moment, it's no reason to be rude to the person who loves you. Stop and think what life would be like if your sweetheart wasn't with you.
8. Listen deeply and take in what your partner is saying. Knowing that you are being heard is very nurturing. It is also the best way to heal old wounds and prevent misunderstandings. Paraphrasing what your partner has said is a great way to let him or her know you are tuned in.
9. Speak in a loving tone and remember to smile. Almost half of communication is tonal and a little more than half is visual. Speaking in a sincere and loving tone will let your loved one know you care.
10. If your partner is having a rough time, pull out all the stops. Don't hold back on helping. Having the person you love by your side when things are rocky is a true gift.
Having someone to rely on when the chips are down is one of the best parts of being in a relationship.
(Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., has resided and practiced in Westlake Village, Calif., for a decade.)
Photo Copyright Getty Images Copyright Scripps Howard News Service 2005