How To Support Your Partner In Coping With Past Trauma In 4 Steps

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If your partner has realized that they need to dive into their past and heal some trauma, how can you support them in the present?

You want to honor their pain but you may not fully understand what they went through. Or maybe you want to fix it for them but since you can’t, you feel really helpless and out of control.

It may even just be uncomfortable for you to see their pain and struggle.

Supporting your beloved on this journey of healing can feel like a daunting task. But in actuality, it boils down to a few simple ways of being.

With some acceptance, love, compassionate space, empathy, and curiosity, you can show up for your partner, yourself, and your relationship, so that both of you can come out the other side stronger and more deeply connected.

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Here are 4 important steps to take to support your partner in coping with past trauma.

1. Offer acceptance and love.

While it may be difficult to see your partner in pain and struggling, it's vital to allow them to be in their experience. Meet them with acceptance and love.

Acceptance is allowing what is present for them to be present, without judgement or trying to change anything. It's creating space for their feelings to be in the room with the two of you.

This might look like listening without "fixing" or offering advice and solutions, unless they actually ask for advice.

It may look like giving them your full attention when they're speaking to you about their experience and letting the love shine from your eyes and your heart.

2. Create a compassionate space.

Creating a compassionate space where they can share how they're feeling is another important part of the puzzle. This is a space for them to share their feelings and where you can express care and concern.

Again, this space is free from any fixing and advice you might be tempted to do or give. Instead, it's a space where you say, "I have your back. Tell me all that you want to, and I will stand here in caring concern."

This requires a bit of presence: No phones, no television, and no interruptions. It requires your willingness to share their experience, rather than dismiss it because it may be uncomfortable to hear.

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3. Have empathy.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. You're a different person with different life experiences.

It's a magical gift to be able to fully step into your partner’s shoes and work to see things as if you were them with their life experiences.

It will help them feel seen and heard in a way that some people never experience. Meeting them in their experience with empathy creates deeper emotional intimacy and connection.

4. Meet your partner with curiosity.

Don’t assume you know their experience. Allow them to tell you what they need to tell you, and meet them with the desire to know more about it. Not so much by asking questions, but by having an intention of interest and curiosity.

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This is another way to create deeper emotional intimacy. Listen actively, with presence, rather than listening to offer an answer. Your presence is the best answer.

Meeting your partner where they are, with acceptance, love, compassion, empathy, and curiosity can help deepen your emotional intimacy.

Your partner will feel met, heard, and seen in ways that they may never have experienced before.

Healing from past trauma can be a daunting task.

Standing by your partner’s side while offering love and acceptance can be a gift that truly helps them to feel strong enough to move through the fire and deeper into healing and wholeness.

It's also a powerful gift for your relationship, as it can deepen the bond of emotional intimacy and secure connection.

This may be a slow and uncomfortable journey to take with your partner, however allowing it to play out as it needs to and creating the space for your partner to make the journey ultimately will be a boon to all involved.

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Emy Tafelski, MA, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and founder of ME-Therapy, a therapy practice helping people rediscover their authenticity, brilliance, and wholeness after the world knocks them around. They are also passionate about helping you have your most loving, authentic, connected relationships.