"I want to be here for you, I am here for you. I'm doing my best."
As we close out this month of love, I want to share some recent study findings with you that share the relationship between communication and mental health in relationships. In the study, researchers followed about 1400 couples for 6 years and examined depression and self-esteem in all participants.
They found that couples who had open communication were less likely to have depressive symptoms and low self-esteem. Additionally, if one partner showed signs of depression, the other partner was likely to also show signs a year later. But, if partners were supportive to one another during times of stress, they showed less signs of depression. Furthermore, men who supported their partners gained an increase in their self-esteem and women who received support felt increased self-worth.
Also of note, when women started with higher levels of self-esteem, there was a increased supportive coping relationship to deal with outside stresses in the couple, which led to higher self-esteem and less depression. However, if a man had higher depressive levels at the start, then this supportive relationship was reported less frequently and led to higher rates of depression.
So what does this mean for your relationship? It means communicate! Rather than automatically backing away or giving your partner space during a difficult time, ask him or her what they need or how you can help. This simple gesture can make a huge difference for your partner's mental health if done genuinely. Additionally, help with day to day tasks. If your partner is the one who always cooks dinner or picks the kids up from school, see if that is something you can take over, even if only occasionally. Help with the cleaning around the house or laundry, all of those little mundane tasks that most people get tired of doing. Not every act of appreciation has to be a grand gesture, the small ones are meaningful too.
When you relationship comes under stress, work together to deal with it. Determine how you can support one another during the trying to. This is the basis to a supportive coping relationship. Remember that everyone deals with stress differently, so try to learn how your partner reacts to stress so that you can recognize it. Do your best to be a supportive partner at all times, it will go a long way in helping your and your partner's mental health.
While I'm sure it comes as no surprise that communicating and being a supportive partner can benefit the relationship, I was interested to see the overall mental health benefits for both partners. Of course, logically it makes sense, but I have found that we often get caught up in our own coping during stress that we sometimes forget about our partners.
If you want to read more about the study click here.
How do you help support your partner is times of stress? What gestures have a partner done for you? How have you strengthened your communication skills in your relationships? Leave a comment below, subscribe and share.
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