Sharing Everything, Except your partner's Sadness
You know what's awesome? Sharing in all of your partner’s highs, triumphs, and their general unbridled joy. You know what's not so awesome? Sharing in all of your partner’s lows, slumps, and their general devastating sadness. Now let's emphasize one element in both of those scenarios: "All of." It's okay (and absolutely inevitable) to be on the same emotional rollercoaster with them. You share a life, after all. But being a more constructive counterpart when things get extreme will help make your two halves feel even more whole.
Relationship expert Michael Moore says that in a relationship, we are subject to "emotional contagion" — the reality that the people we're around most often influence our moods, in both the positive and the negative. So how do we emotionally invest in your partner's mood swings without, how do we put this, emotionally investing? It's a tough needle to thread.
Say your partner comes home after a bear of a day at work, it's not like you can magically "un-do" the day. So to start, don't try to fix every sour mood. Sometimes life is brutal, and that's all. But that doesn't mean you should immerse yourself in the misery with your partner — two miserable people aren’t better than one. So allow them to work through their turmoil, and give them space to reflect.
Being a more constructive counterpart when things get extreme will help make your two halves feel even more whole.
And when you find a window to weigh in, offer empathy. The key here is understanding what your capabilities are as a partner, and doing everything that's possible while ignoring those extra instincts that exacerbate the negativity. Always remember, your partner’s pain is not yours. Isn't that kind of freeing? (We think so.)