I don’t exactly remember when he began asking me this, but at first, I thought he was joking. Honestly, I was a bit embarrassed that I never thought to ask him the same string of words first. Those five little words seemed so simple but the more he used them, the more powerful they got.
“How Can I Support You?”
These are my husband’s five magical words. To an outsider, the phrase may seem awkward. But it isn’t. In fact, it’s exactly what we should always be asking our partners. Maybe he watched me struggle. Maybe he wanted to do more. Whatever the impetus, I’m so grateful he asked. In the chaos of motherhood, I’m just barely staying afloat. I’m doing the best that I can. But too often I feel as though I yell too much, shower too little, and push too hard without stopping to ask for help. My spouse asking me how to be supportive? Girl, that line is better than a box of chocolates.
Here’s the kicker though; this magical phrase won’t move mountains unless you accept the help. When I first heard those five little words, my response was startlingly simple: I don’t know. I had spent so much time trying to do it all, and do it my way, that I hadn’t left room for my husband to do his part, in a style that was all his own. He is a fantastic father and an incredible husband. So why was it so hard for me to hand over the reigns and let him share in the mental load? It took time, aaaand a few steps down from my pride pedestal for me to accept his help and embrace his support.
When Delegation is a Roadblock
So I started thinking. How can I accept his help in a way that supports us as a family and as a couple? I began making lists. I began identifying what I truly needed help with and not withholding tasks. In a nutshell, I worked on my seriously sloppy delegation skills. Pretty soon, I could ask for support before he even had to inquire. Once I got the hang of things, we got to a point where I could occasionally answer, “actually, I’m feeling quite supported!”
A Two-Way Street
I’m still a bit rusty at this but I’ve started asking my husband how I can support him, too. This is the important part. It’s lovely when your partner asks you what s/he can do for you, but it takes maturity, commitment, and selflessness to ask it back- and mean it. Marriage isn’t easy. Parenting isn’t easy. But inquiring daily with your partner as to how you can be more helpful and present in their current struggle is a gift. It’s effective communication. And it should be considered essential in all of our close relationships.
A Supported Heart is a Grateful Heart
I’m still a hot mess mama on most days. But my heart is full and I do feel supported- even when my husband doesn’t ask me those five little words. I’m still learning how to ask for help. I’m still learning to delegate. So if there are any words of wisdom that I can leave you with, it’s this: ask the words.