If your partner is having a bad day, a simple text can be a great way to show that you’ve got his or her back. Even if you’re not sure
exactly what to say, the sentiment of solidarity can mean a great deal whether it’s sent in shorthand, a few sentences, or some carefully curated emojis. Expressing faith and unity toward your partner can help boost their mood, confidence, and outlook just enough to help them make it through even the worst days. We spoke to two experts — both licensed clinical psychologists, and experts on relationship dynamics — who told us just how effective these seemingly modest shows of affection and/or attention can be at reviving a day that’s gone awry. And whether it’s work, personal stuff, or some gray area in between, these texts can provide some heavy-lift help to the burden. Obviously, you know your relationship better than us and our experts. So, while these texts would probably be effectively sent verbatim, try to look at the nuts and bolts of their message so you can ensure you’ll send a greeting, pick-me-up, or commiseration that’s unique and meaningful within the confines of your partnership. In any case, these suggestions are curated and expert-endorsed so that you can use them the next time your partner is having one of those days.
1. What can I do to help?
Let’s get this one out of the way early because, assuming you’re a loving partner, you want to help. It’s a gimme. But why is it so important to state outright? According to psychologist Dr. Heidi Heimler, this question can open up a dialogue between the two of you that can lead to some potential breakthroughs. “Avoid telling your partner what he or she needs,” says Heimler. “Instead of suggesting solutions, inquire. Even if they have no idea what they need, they’ll feel good knowing you’ve offered.” As blunt as it may sound, it’s a time-tested assist they’ll likely appreciate.
2. I’ve got you in my heart.
Or something similarly sweet. Feel free to tailor this phrase to suit your unique brand of ‘couples talk’, but keep the core notion in mind. The intent, after all, is to let your partner know you’re thinking about them. Going overboard may sound silly, but sometimes silly is just what the situation needs, according to Dr. Heimler. “It’s good to let someone know they’re the center of your universe, especially when they’re feeling like they’re on the outside looking in,” she says. Letting them know they matter can shift their focus from “everything is awful” to “there’s this really good thing in my life, so not everything is bad.”
3. We’ll work on making the rest of today better.
When we have shitty days, we tend to laser-focus on the bad. We forget that the current mess isn’t the end of the world. A friendly reminder can help mitigate the sorrow. “The key here is zooming out,” says Dr. Heimler. “With a text like this, the person having a rough day can look at the bigger picture. He or she can shift from a focus on the really bad right now, to a vision of a more pleasant and positive later.” Feel free to offer up specific suggestions for how you can make the rest of the day better, too. Dinner. Netflix. Something you know will distract your partner from life for a bit.
4. Keep me posted.
This might sound impersonal and dismissive, but it’s a way to offer space. You can couch this phrase with some niceties to make it seem not so “down to business”, but the gist is you communicating that you have a vested interest in how your partner’s day unfolds, and that you want to support them. “When things keep piling up, a person can feel like the universe is conspiring against them,” says Dr. Heimler. “They can feel misunderstood and alone. Letting them know that you are interested in how things shape up shows that you care, and that they can update you at their convenience.”
5.[Hug emoji], [Kiss emoji], etc.
Get creative with a string of digital icons, and send them to your ailing partner. Why? According to clinical psychologist Dr. Bethany Cook, this little trick is rooted in the neurochemical response emojis elicit. “Imagining someone you love giving you a hug or kiss can actually trick the brain into thinking they are really doing it,” she says. “So when your partner sees the emojis, he or she will actually get a boost of oxytocin – the ‘love hormone’ – from your text.” Sending a virtual embrace is also great if you haven’t figured out the right words to say just yet.
6. Remember when you thought you couldn’t do X, Y, and Z? Well you did!
Now’s the time to ramp up your partner’s confidence. Whether he or she is dealing with a jerk boss at work, a tricky day at home, or infuriating family issues, chances are they’ve been in similar situations before…and survived! “When we’re upset, our brains don’t function from the ‘reason’ part,” explains Dr. Cook. “Instead, they work from the midbrain, the emotional center. Sending your partner a message that connects them back to the front of the brain, where reasoning occurs, can help them recenter and remind them that they’ve got this!
7. Take some time to unwind tonight. I’ve got everything.
Not in a passive-aggressive “whatever” way. But in the form of a genuine encouragement stating that, when your partner is able to unearth him or herself from their day, whatever they feel like doing to unwind or relieve stress is a-okay. “Permission to be ‘alone’ feels very freeing,” says Dr. Cook. “You’ll need to know your partner well enough to decide if this will be something they’d respond to, but telling them to do whatever they need to after a tough day is a show of love. Some people don’t find alone time pleasant, but those who enjoy it rarely get it.” If your partner is among the latter, make yourself scarce so he or she can refocus and regroup.
8. I’m canceling my plans so we can spend time together tonight.
On the other hand, maybe your partner can’t think of anything but seeing you to make the day better. Letting him or her know that you’re reprioritizing to make that happen can be a helpful, authentic way to brighten the light at the end of the tunnel. “Some spouses really benefit from and enjoy quality time together,” says Dr. Cook. “When your partner sees that you’re willing to spend time with them, it can give them something to look forward to and ‘make it through’ a bad day.” Even if you don’t have plans to cancel, let your partner know that you won’t be making any so that you can be there strictly for them.
9. I appreciate all you do for me/the family.
On bad days, we tend to feel worthless. Hard work seems to go a little bit more unnoticed, and no matter what we do, it’s never enough. Reminding your partner that you see them – their efforts, contributions, sacrifices, etc. – will help them realize they’re valued where it counts. “Telling your partner or spouse you appreciate all their sacrifices and efforts is so empowering,” explains Dr. Cook. “When was the last time you thanked your spouse for just being themself? Verbally acknowledging all your partner does to support you – while also juggling their own responsibilities – can really motivate someone who might think their efforts are being overlooked.”
10. Do you want to talk about your day?
You don’t want to see your partner hurting. That’s understandable. But, offering them the opportunity to dictate how they deal with the deconstruction of their crappy day can alleviate the potential stress of having to relive it all over too soon. “Sometimes, a really bad day can take a while to get over,” explains Dr. Cook. “Many people cope by emotionally shutting down, and truly not wanting to talk about it. Asking your partner if he or she would like to vent – rather than assuming that to be the case – will allow you to become more aware of their situation, and adjust as needed.” In this case giving your partner space is the best way to show them you’re close by.