Never is my husband Dan hotter than when he sees me through a particularly emotional time. It sounds like I'm joking, but I'm quite serious. My love for Dan quadruples when he shows up for me. But it's not always easy to find a listening ear, whether it's because you are hoping your significant other is a mind reader, or you simply can't find the right words. But if you want to know how to ask your husband for emotional support or urge your partner to lend a shoulder to lean on, then I've got you covered. Because it's not always as easy as it might seem.
"If you are able to be specific with what you need, that’s usually the easiest way to ask a partner for support," Heidi McBain, a Texas-based licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper in an email interview. "For example, say 'I had a hard day and could really use a hug' or 'Could you just listen to me for a few minutes while I vent?'" McBain says it also doesn't hurt to say something like, "I don’t really know what I need, but it would help if you could just hold my hand while we watch TV."
I am by no means an expert, but one of my tried-and-true ways for scoring the time I need to talk to Dan about something that is on my mind is to schedule it. There isn't exactly a calendar involved, but I will chat with him during a work break and say something like, "No matter what, I need a couch date with you tonight." Which is equal to "I need something from you that requires a discussion." It instantly makes me feel better to know I will have dedicated time to talk things out with him.
"It helps to make daily check-ins a part of your normal routine as a couple, such as taking a few minute right when you each get home to completely stop what you are doing and ask about each other’s day — and really listen to the answers," McBain says. "Also, when your partner is not themselves, simply asking them, 'how can I help?' will let them know that you’re there for them and that you want to support them. It also shows that you know them well enough to pick up on their nonverbal cues that something is wrong."
Which brings the conversation back to the idea of your partner being a mind reader. While, like McBain says, your partner might be a pro at reading the expression on your face or general mood, don't expect them to play guessing games. It's important to get specific about what's bugging you.
"Sometimes it's hard to be vulnerable, even with your partner," McBain says. "It can also be hard to ask for help, especially if you pride yourself on your independence." Don't be surprised, she adds, if it's hard to acknowledge that something is going on that you you can’t handle on your own. "Sometimes people know they need support, but are having trouble verbalizing what that support should look like in that moment," McBain says.
Which is why the original point of being as specific as possible is crucial to properly communicating your feelings. And don't be afraid to put in a request for what you want. According to Greatist, asking for what you need in a loving way — whether it's more quality time or more attention — is a solid way to help your partner understand the importance behind what you are seeking.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.