During and valued, and belongs to a

During
our lifetime, we often seek and give support. It is one of our needs, since it
provides us with the feeling of love and care. Our loved ones are the ones we
turn to when in a need of support. What is also important is that we should
offer support and recognize the right time to do so. Once we get married, our
partner becomes the main source of support, and it is one of the components
that plays a huge role in overall marital satisfaction. Besides giving and
receiving advice, we expect support on an emotional level, which makes
everything happening to us seem less negative and easier to carry out.

According
to Cobb (1976), social support is defined as „the individual’s beliefs that one
is cared for and loved, esteemed and valued, and belongs to a network of
communication and mutual obligations” (as cited in Nawaz et al, 2004). Social
support affects our health and well-being. Social support means that there are
people available on whom we can rely, people who love us and care about us. In
the context of marriage, social support „includes spouses’ efforts to fulfill
the immediate needs of their partner endangered by stressful life events, as
well as the cumulative benefits of supportive interactions, such as a sense of
security and self-efficacy” (Sullivan et al., 1998).

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Another
definition of social support comes from Citrona (1996), who defines it as
responsiveness to another’s needs, acts that communicate caring, acts that
validate the other’s words, feelings or actions” (as cited in Sullivan et al.,
1998). This kind of responsivity fosters love, trust, commitment, and
tolerance. These elements contribute to the stability of intimate
relationships. This is the reason social support is as important as problem
solving and conflict management. If personality traits do not define a person
as supportive, one can and should learn the skill. It will greatly contribute
to one’s relationship, providing a partner that cares, sacrifices, loves, and
respects the other.

Cutrona
et al. (1997) argued that personality characteristics play an important role in
the emergence and maintenance of social support networks. Individual
characteristics may influence the development of supportive relationships, and
may have an impact in reducing the intensity of distress. Given that support is
communicated through social interactions, it is important to understand how individual
differences may play a role in explaining differences in behavior that occur
during supportive interactions (as cited in Dehle and Landers, 2005). In some studies,
gender differences play a role in social support. However, one study’s findings
prove that, although there are some gender differences in spousal support, they
are situated within the context of many striking similarities. Moreover, apart
from a small portion of men and women who confirm existing gender stereotypes,
„there are a sizable numbers of both men and women that resemble prototypical
exemplars of the opposite gender in terms of supportive behavior” (Verhofstadt,
2005).

As
previously mentioned, a person can enhance social support in his/her marriage,
and there are many strategies that can help in doing so. First of all, a person
should learn what social support is and why it is so important for their
relationship. People mostly are not aware of this, and they should learn of its
long-term effect on the intimate relationship. Furthermore, couples should
recognize the different tasks involved in seeking and receiving help. These
roles are different, yet each one can be done well. Moreover, couples should
understand that a supportive climate in marriage is likely to enhance their
problem-solving. Working on and learning social support may help couples
resolve their conflicts. Lastly, spouses can learn to be better at both giving
and receiving support. It may be even easier to change social support skills
than conflict resolution, because „support discussions do not involve the
intense affect that usually accompanies marital conflicts, they do not usually
involve marital issues, and people can appreciate the benefits of getting good
support themselves and see the positive benefits of support for their partner”
(Sullivan et al., 1998).