In my Toronto therapy practice I get many calls from partners of troubled people. The majority are women. They end with problems such as anxiety attacks, anger issues, signs of depression and stress management. They all want me to do therapy with their partners and ‘fix them’. What do I tell them: It is you I want to do therapy with, not your partner. I also give them suggestions how to help themselves.
How to Help Yourself
1/ Most Important – Take care of yourself
2/ Be involved – not over-involved
3/ Be kind and understanding, not punitive
4/ Keep advice to a minimum.
5/ Reach out to helpers and friends
6/ Assess the damage that is done to you in the relationship
7/ An important question – is your partner doing anything to help themselves, not just talking about it.
8/ Ask yourself – am I a codependent enabler
9/ Another question – am I secretly enjoying being a martyr
10/ Should I stay or leave
The Decision to Stay or Leave
In my role as a Toronto therapist I am continually asked the same question, “Should I stay with or leave my partner.” At this point I talk to them (mostly women) about the manner in which women are indoctrinated to Stand by your Man. This powerful belief often keeps them prisoner in a loveless, harmful marriage. Some of my clients consider such questions as:
1/ Am I or my children at risk. If this is the case leave right away.
2/ Affects on children – If they have not yet left the home, is our marriage helping or hurting them.
3/ Are my anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms and anger issues destroying my life
4/ What type of help do I need to make a balanced decision.
5/ What efforts have I made to change the marriage – has my partner responded positively or negatively
6/ Do I feel I am deserving of a better life or not
This is a big decision and it can take time. However, I have had many people come to me who have normalized an unhappy, harmful marriage and stayed far too long. As a result, it has virtually ruined their lives. Think over the decision carefully. But don’t run away from it either.