How To Be There For Your Partner During Difficult Times

Reflections on 9/11

Jessica Settle, MFT, therapist at Couples Counseling ATL, reflects on 9/11, and discusses how even an anniversary of a horrible tragedy can be isolating, but you don’t have to do it alone.

All Feelings Are Normal

Days like this can bring about many understandable feelings, including (but not limited to) anger, sadness, loss, fear, gratitude, hope, despair, etc. There are many ways that an individual, or both individuals in a relationship, can struggle on difficult days, whether due to a national tragedy, or a personal tragedy.

None of us can change the past, but these experiences don’t have to be isolating. You don’t have to suffer the past alone.

Coping Together

Although it’s 100% okay to want to be alone, it’s also okay to want to reflect with someone, to talk about it, to ask for support. Actually, talking about it with your partner can benefit most people, and strengthen relationships, as long as you do it in a healthy way:

  • Both people need to be open and willing to hear what their partner is experiencing

  • Take turns talking and listening

  • Allow any feelings

  • Ask open ended questions

  • Make eye contact

  • Nod, and give vocalizations that you’re following, such as “uh huh”, “yeah” and “that makes sense.”

  • You and your partner can talk not only about the hear and now, but the then and there. (i.e. Where were you when the towers fell? What were you feeling?)

Whatever difficult experiences or tragedies you’ve personally faced, any struggles, no matter how difficult to discuss, can eventually become a topic for you and your partner, as long as there is safety. Any topic, but especially difficult ones, can be another way to connect, and to feel less alone.

Talking Strengthens Friendship (the Core of Healthy Relationships)

We know that according to the research by the Gottman Institute, that healthy relationships mean deep friendship. The kind of friend you can share anything with, and feel anything with. Who is there for you—if and when—you want to talk.

Does Your Relationship Need Help?

Need help with your relationship? Struggling with feeling connected and intimate? Or is conflict getting in the way? Please schedule your first session either 1) online or 2) call our assistant, Tiffany, at 678-999-3390 to schedule your first session with Jessica, or any of our other counselors. Want more information? Visit our website at


Stephanie Cook

Stephanie Cook, LCSW, is an Atlanta area therapist and owner of a private psychotherapy practice, Counseling ATL, LLC, located in Decatur, an in-town suburb of Atlanta, GA. She has expertise providing counseling to individuals, couples, and families and primarily specializes in work with young adults and couples