When we make our marriage vows, we promise to be at our partner’s side at all the important (and not-so-significant) occasions in life. Whether those be moments of difficulty and hardship, or success and happiness does not matter. It is simply being there, as an emotional support. Providing solace and comfort in times of need or giving a figurative pat on the back in congratulatory delight. Part of the commitment of being sole partner to your loved one is providing that unconditional support.
The giving and taking of emotional strength is necessary to validate your combined stances on ethics and morals. The reason most couples unite in a relationship in the first place is that their ideologies are aligned within common-ground. Any grievance or slight against the one would be perceived as against the couple. By contrast, a success achieved by one of the couple is shared between the two. Uniting in this way shares the upset or happiness and unifies the pair on a spiritual level.
This is even more important when there are other family members present within the household. They may be extended family, including siblings and parents. Or the couple in question may have children of their own. An environment for rearing younger generations will be more harmonious when the couples’ feelings and beliefs are in synchrony. Perceived disagreements, however slight, will disrupt the peace and sanctity. They may sow seeds of doubt into the mind of the ‘injured’ party. Have they over-reacted? Were their emotions justified? If so, why did their spouse not stand by them in validating their feelings?
Establishing patterns of behaviour
Moreover, if the occasion recurs on an ongoing basis, then a pattern of injustice, anger and resentment will present itself. The person feeling the hurt may start to become emotionally withdrawn. They will believe it is not worth investing time sharing their feelings with their partner who will only rebuff their concerns. Or even suggest that their ‘injury’ is a manifestation of their imagination. Resentment will erode the foundations of a relationship. It may cause the person who has built up the resentment to ‘escape’ the relationship through focussing solely on the children, or other relatives. Alternatively, they may find another person to confide in, be it a friend or an extramarital lover.
It is often perceived that men seek relationships outside of their marriage purely for the physical intimacy. But it is not out of the question that women may also pursue the same. The crux of the issue is, why did they need the physical intimacy from an outside source in the first place? There are sometimes simple explanations. For example, health issues and physiological changes like the menopause in women or erectile dysfunction in men. Another factor may be some kind of psychological trauma, either brought about through a difficult pregnancy, labour or even a sexual assault. Careful counselling will be required to deal with these circumstances.
But in some cases, the need for physical intimacy stems from an emotional disconnect between the two partners. When there are misalignments in emotional requirements and the support received, then there can often be disparity in attachment between a couple. They may become estranged from one another and perceive that the person they ought to be able to confide in is no longer available to them.
What constitutes a ‘reasonable’ level of emotional support?
To present a balanced view to this discussion of emotional support, we need to also examine what constitutes a reasonable level of support. From my own experience, there are times when I have made errors in judgment and have either trusted people with information that I should perhaps not have shared. Alternatively, I may have expected my spouse to feel my injustice, and then have perceived his response to be insufficient in relation to my upset. Maybe on those occasions, I simply expected too much. Or his perception was that the injustice I felt outweighed the ‘injury.’
Either way, we weren’t aligned in our interpretation of the events that had occurred. This dealt us with difficulty in relaying our innermost thoughts. My feelings and beliefs were perceived by me to have been ‘invalidated’ by him. He underestimated my sense of ‘betrayal.’ All in all, it added a layer of resentment to our relationship. Each layer builds upon the last, and with each addition, the beliefs are cemented and perpetuated.
In conclusion, we are both guilty in our perceptions of the emotional support we can offer each other, and that we require from the other. One way we could improve our emotional connectivity is to show each other more empathy. He can empathise that I may feel injustice by a comment someone has made. I can empathise that whilst such a comment may bother me, it will not necessarily have the same impact upon him. The most important factor is that we continue to love, honour and provide emotional support!
Do you identify with the thoughts I have addressed in this post? What is your outlook? Please share in the comments section if you wish!