All good ideas. Another obvious but worthwhile one to add to your quiver: A simple text message. While the idea of firing off a text may seem lazy, a well-crafted message of love, support, and appreciation can do quite a bit of good in the moment — and cut through a lot of noise that occurs when your partner is stressed.
“The best advice I give to a partner trying to help is not to take anything personally,” says Dr. Michael Tobin, a clinical psychologist with nearly 50 years of experience in marriage and family therapy. “This is why texting works well to offer help. If you say something in person, your partner might be defensive because he or she is so on edge. A loving text message, showing patience, creativity, or common sense, can help keep a relationship pointing toward true north.”
Amber Trueblood, a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in working with overwhelmed moms, agrees — and emphasizes that in times of stress the supportive partner must remember to be kind to themselves as well.
“It can be incredibly distressing to watch your partner go through a challenging period of their life,” Trueblood says. “The balance between self-care and supporting your spouse is delicate and highly dependent on how much emotional energy you have to give at the time.”
Finding support strategies that work for your partner, while protecting your own mental and emotional health, she says, is an important key to a healthy relationship during difficult times.
Supportive texts can be a smart part of that strategy. So what should you text a stressed out partner? Here are a dozen texts to send your wife or husband when they’re dealing with a lot of pressure.
1. “You are killing it in the most important ways.”
Your partner’s stress may come from misconceptions about their importance and the stuff they may be nervous about may overshadow their actual accomplishments. “When we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed in one area of our life, it’s easy to overlook or discount all the other areas where we’re thriving,” notes Trueblood “Send your partner a simple message of verbal encouragement and acknowledgment to remind them how well they’re doing in other — perhaps more important — areas of their life.” Ignore the losses in favor of the wins, no matter how big or small.
2. “I appreciate you and all that you do.”
It’s always important to express appreciation for your partner and all that they do. When they’re stressed? It’s all the more so. “When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it’s often because we feel unacknowledged or unappreciated,” says Trueblood. “Sending a text message with specific and genuine words of appreciation to your partner can help remind them that the most important person in their life values and acknowledges all of their hard work.” The key is to be specific, letting your partner know how much you appreciate the spontaneous dishwasher emptying, the trash being taken out, or any other chore that keeps your household thriving.
3. “How does take-out and a movie sound tonight?”
Whatever your partner’s pleasure, a simple gesture combining a relaxing activity and a good meal can remind them they’re worth it. “When your partner is stressed, don’t ask questions that need more than a two-word answer or questions that require a decision,” advises Trueblood. Decision fatigue, she notes, is a real thing and most people become mentally drained making choices all day. Instead, make the choices for them and suggest something specific that requires only a simple response like ‘sounds great’ or ‘I’m too tired.’ “This text message works particularly well if you have a partner who appreciates acts of service and support,” says Trueblood. So send the text and cross your fingers your partner says “Panda Express and Predator.”
4. “This weekend, let’s…”
Having something to look forward to can often be energizing and empowering. So, think about something that refuels your partner and makes them excited. The anticipation, per Trueblood, can help them destress. “Many people truly appreciate having something to look forward to, especially when feeling overwhelmed and stressed,” she says. “Suggesting a specific experience or activity that you already know your partner enjoys is a fabulous way to both give them something to look forward to and show them you care about their mental health.” Do your best to plan and arrange the experience so they can just sit back, relax, and enjoy.
5. “I’m sorry you’re under so much pressure right now.”
Whether it’s work, parenting, family troubles, or some other source of stress you don’t even understand, a tiny text of empathy can go a long way. “Genuine and compassionate words of support can be powerfully supportive,” adds Trueblood. “When you have a stressed partner who’s verbally-oriented, they will truly appreciate reading your words of compassion, appreciation and understanding.” It’ll be right there in black and white for them to read and reread when they feel alone under pressure.