How to balance trusting your partner with having their back

I was sitting on the couch watching Dave awkwardly pulling two bottles out from the liquor cabinet to reach for one behind. Our floors are ceramic. All I could see was the two bottles slipping from his hands and exploding onto the floor. It is clearly my superpower to see these events happening.

Melissa: Would you like a hand?
Dave: (raised eyebrows) When you ask if I need help it’s as if you are saying that I can’t be trusted to do it.

Dave was able to articulate in a real scenario what he had learned from what we now refer to as the Manual: Mars and Venus Together Forever: Relationship Skills for Lasting Love by John Gray. It really sunk in what it meant to Dave for me to trust him. I felt like I was being considerate but asking if he needed help made him feel like a child, not like a partner. This was strange to me because I see an offer of help as an act of love. Eye-opening.

There was no crash to the floor. But what do you do when you want to trust your partner but you KNOW that they are doing something wrong; how do you correct them or check in with them so that they do not feel slighted?

Dave and I have established a “I’ve got your back” system. As Dave was leaving for work this morning, we had this conversation:

Melissa: Do you have your keys, phone, glasses, and wallet? I am writing an I’ve got your back blog.
Dave: (grabbing his phone) I do now. Thank you.

Sometimes “I’ve got your back” comes out a bit awkwardly. I have even used sentences like: this is in the category of “I’ve got your back” but have you called your mom today (on Mother’s Day)? Using this phrase sets up the conversation so that your partner understands that you assume your partner has done it, but you are looking out for them.

I believe part of a partnership is balancing trust of one another with looking out for each other. It makes sense to trust your partner to do the right thing. But It doesn’t make any sense to watch your partner do something that hurts them in the short-run or especially the long-run. It’s very comforting to know we have our partners backs, and they’ve got ours.

How do you show your partner that you’ve got their back? 

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