When we know that our partner is going through some difficulty, there’s nothing we want to do more than magically wipe away their troubles. Unfortunately, that’s not usually possible, but the good news is that your partner doesn’t actually need from you. What they really need is your support and understanding. While fixing a problem is always great and helpful, sometimes it can be even more rewarding if you help your partner navigate that problem.

Yet, this doesn’t mean just saying “good luck” and leaving them to their own. Relationships contain many different layers that form a healthy and lasting bond. One of those layers we need to shine off occasionally is our supportive role in helping our partner through stressful times. Not every person receives help in the same form — some people want to talk about their problems, others want to take their mind off the problem, and others yet will need a little of both. Nevertheless, there are some universal rules for lending support to your partner in troubling times to go by.

Ego Check
It might seem like a surprising first tip, but many of us tend to make other people’s problems our own. This means we offer advice on how we would deal with the situation or focus on things we can do to help solve the issue. While it’s great to provide those things if appropriate, tread lightly and let your partner set the tone for the kind of support they need. Practice empathizing with them by putting yourself in their situation and imagining what they feel, not how their situation makes you feel.

Go the Extra Mile
This is an easy way to make a big difference for your partner when they’re having a rough time. Find some simple ways to add a little light into their life, whether it’s an extra-decadent home-cooked meal or a hidden love note. When someone is already going through a challenge, the mundane difficulties of life like traffic and clutter around the house can feel overwhelming. By adding a little extra love and care into their lives, you’ll help restore your partner’s energy while they go through a stressful time.

You probably already know this one, but just to put some extra emphasis — make sure you’re listening! Many of us have a terrible habit of doing a bit more talking than listening. When your partner is going through stress, try to set aside time for “therapist mode,” where you actively listen to them without putting too much of your opinion into the conversation. Sometimes people just need to vent and feel heard to lighten their burden.