Emotional Support Beyond Your Spouse

Emotional Support Beyond Your Spouse
by Sarah Kumm

I love hearing stories of couples who have enjoyed many years together in marriage. Not just enduring each other, but truly happy together. One key theme these stories often share is that successful couples are involved in community. These couples—who not only have been married many years but also report more contentment and joy in their marriage—have healthy emotional support outside of their marriage. I think many of us who struggle with compulsive behaviors are aware of the devastating and toxic effects that isolation, a lack of such community, can have on us. What we may fail to realize is that we can still feel isolated even when we associate mostly with just one other person, such as our spouse.

It is unreasonable to expect any one person to meet all our emotional needs. Each person is created with different strengths and talents. No one has all strengths and talents that would be needed to meet the all the needs of someone else. Not even a spouse. Since each of us are unique and limited in our abilities, this points to the need for connection with a larger community. When we attempt to rely on our spouse to meet all our emotional needs, we place a responsibility on them that they cannot carry—it weighs them down and can be suffocating. The end result being to reduce happiness in marriage.

Without the proper support leading to growth, safety and freedom, our marriages can become enmeshed and dysfunctional. It’s like building a structure with only one support beam. Just as multiple support beams hold up a structure, outside emotional support can hold up a marriage. When the support is limited, the structure, like a marriage, can’t expand, grow, or even support weight.

It is important, however, to recognize the uniqueness of each relationship in our community and to set healthy boundaries accordingly. Without boundaries in place, reaching out for necessary emotional connection can be dangerous. So while emotional connection outside of one’s spouse is healthy and necessary, it must be done thoughtfully and openly within the boundaries established for your marriage. With the right boundaries in place, couples have the opportunity to experience the support and emotional connection necessary to foster a strong, thriving marriage built on a firm foundation.

Transparent Love Sarah Kümm is a counselor specializing in love and sex addiction in women. She is also the Director of Transparent Love, a group-based program for women who struggle with unhealthy sexual thoughts and behaviors. Transparent Love is a program of, a purity ministry based in Portland, OR.
Posted: Mar 4, 2016,
Categories: Men, Women, Spouses,
Comments: 0,
Author: Sarah Kumm
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