You’re finding it harder and harder to ignore the signs: He can’t get out of bed in the morning, three cups of coffee don’t do the trick, calling in sick more and more often. You get scared of him losing his job. Or she can’t stop crying whenever she gets off the phone with her mother, whenever she gets on the scales and sees she hasn’t lost any weight, but instead gained some. You worry but don’t know what to do. The sparkle in her eye is gone and she rarely wants to make love.
These are common symptoms that our loved one’s experiencing emotional pain because some vital needs are unmet. Perhaps he doesn’t want to go to work because he’s being bullied, or unappreciated. Perhaps she’s caught in a vicious cycle of blame and guilt with her mother, which erodes her self-confidence. Whatever the reason, you know you want to seek professional help, but how do you do it without stigmatising your partner, without adding to her or his heaviness or despondency? Sometimes we’re afraid that the tenuous connection that’s left can be dissolved if we raise the issue of counselling.
What do you do? First express love and empathy rather than solutions.
It could sound something like “I love you so much and I feel pain when I know you’re suffering. We’ve tried but we can’t solve this ourselves. How ’bout we find a counsellor who can give us both tips on how to get out of this rut, cuz i know we can find happiness.”
Then offer a list of counsellors or suggest googling one, allowing your partner to feel in charge of how the choice is made, if indeed s/he wants to see someone. If s/he resolutely rejects the idea, then you can see a counsellor to help you cope with your partner, because at the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own feelings and meeting our own needs.
Best of luck!