Have you ever put your trust in someone and then when it came to the time you really needed them, it felt like they weren’t there for you? It is an awful feeling. And we want to make sure that our spouse never feels that way about us.

So, here are eight ways to show your spouse you have their back. As you read each point, let this be an evaluation form for yourself. Consider this list to be a checklist for you rather than making it a checklist for your spouse.

1. Stand up for your spouse.

There will be times when you and your spouse disagree. That’s gonna happen. There will be times when your spouse believes he or she is right and you don’t think they are. When that happens, present a united front. Have your spouse’s back, then in private discuss the reasons why you disagree in a loving, gentle way. If your spouse is enforcing a consequence to your children, side with your spouse. If your spouse is telling your child to do something and a grandparent disagrees with your spouse, stand up for your spouse. Don’t just ignore it, speak up.

If you are unwilling to speak up for your spouse, you’re sending the message to your spouse that you don’t have their back. Speak up on behalf of your spouse to the grandparents when you need to. You and your wife or husband are raising your children, not their grandparents. You need to stand up for your spouse when necessary. That’s the first way to show your spouse you have their back.

2. Ask, “How can I help you this week?”

It is fantastic to be on the other end of this question. Asking how you can help your spouse communicates love and teamwork. When you ask your spouse how you can help them, you’re showing them you have their back. You’re telling them you’re on the same team. Here’s the catch-when they answer you with how you can help them, you have to do it! Here’s the other catch, when you’re doing the task for which they asked for help, you have to do it with a good attitude! Keep those two things in mind before you ask this question.

3. Affirm their feelings.

When your spouse is sharing how they’re feeling about something, someone, or some situation, have their back by affirming their feelings. Tell them, “Yeah, that sucks!” Say, “I totally get why you would feel that way!” Remind them that you care about how they feel and that you’re always ready to listen. This is a profound way to show your spouse you have their back. If your spouse comes home and is all upset about something that happened, listen well as they share. Set your phone down, turn off the TV, or turn away from your computer screen and pay attention. This will show your spouse you have their back emotionally!

4. Pick up the slack.

If you want your spouse to feel like you have their back, you’ve got to pick up the slack. There will be times in your spouse’s life where they can’t keep up with all the obligations they have. That’s when they’re teammate Comes in to pick up the slack. Are there tasks in your spouse’s life you know they wish they could do, but I haven’t had the time to do them? This is where you come in. Do the chore they don’t have time for. It can be as simple as texting, “I’m at the store picking up milk, is there anything else I can get for you? Text and tell your spouse, “You don’t need to take the trash out, I already got it!” This makes your spouse feel like you’re a team and it shows them you’ve got their back!

5. Give them verbal permission to be human.

Sometimes your spouse needs to be reminded it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to get tired, make mistakes, or treat yourself. One of the best way to show your spouse you have their back is by verbally telling them, “Take some rest.” Show them it’s okay to be human by letting go of the mistake they made and showing them grace. Offering mercy to your spouse can show them you’ve got their back. Maybe sending them a text telling them you think they deserve a treat; whatever a treat looks like to them. It may be junk food, time alone, spending a little money on something they want, or going out with their friends. Treats look different to each person. We’re all human. We all need things like rest, grace, mercy, and treats. But most of us don’t want to indulge or be selfish. That’s when it’s so nice for our teammate to have our back and give us permission to be human; to go ahead and treat ourselves, rest, or accept grace.

6. Say “Yes”.

Saying “Yes”, is a great way to have your spouse’s back. If you can say yes, say yes. Unless there’s a real reason to say no, say yes. For instance, if your husband says, “I’d really like to take three hours on Saturday to watch the football game in peace and quiet.” Say yes! If your wife says, “I’m so ashamed of my fingernails I wish I could get a manicure!” say yes. If your spouse says, “I’m frustrated by how raggedy the yard looks, I wish we could work together to spruce it up.” say yes. If there’s not a good reason to say no to your spouse, say yes. Your spouse will feel like you have their back.

7. Do what you say you will do.

If you tell your spouse that you will have the dishes done before they get home from work, make sure you follow through with that. If you tell your spouse, you’re going to change the oil, make sure you take time to get that oil change. You must follow through on what you say you will do in order to have your spouse’s back. If you say, I’ll go on a date with you, and then you ignore them the whole time, you really didn’t go on a date with them at all. If you tell them, you will discipline the children and then you don’t, you’re saying I don’t have your back. When you tell your spouse, you’ll do something and then you don’t follow through, you’re saying “You can’t trust me. I don’t have your back.” When your spouse says that they’re going to do something and you can count on them, it brings a beautiful sense of trust, peace, and confidence in your spouse and in your relationship. Of course, the reverse is true, if your spouse doesn’t follow through with the things, they say they’re going to do, you begin to question everything they say. You don’t believe that they will do the things that they say, and you start to just do the stuff yourself before they even have a chance to make good on their promise.

8. Protect them from any harm.

It is important to protect your spouse from physical harm, but it’s much more than that. It’s protecting them from emotional pain, protecting their reputation, protecting them from hurting themselves, and protecting them from mental harm. Emotional harm can come from the most surprising places. Harm can come from family, friends and even your spouse themselves. If you have someone’s back, it means they don’t have to worry about what’s happening behind them because you’re there watching their back. No one is going to sneak up behind them and hurt them. You are their protector.

Have you had your spouse’s back this year? Can they count on you? As you look back over this past year, take ownership of your words and actions. Apologize if you haven’t had your spouse’s back this year. Make this New Year a fresh start and show your spouse that you have their back!