Maybe when we think of couples seeking counseling, we think of young or even middle-aged couples, but the truth is therapists see older ones, too, or older individuals seeking help because of an issue with their spouse or partner. Getting older and facing a serious illness and/or death is never easy, but what happens when both parties in the couple are the types who need to be needed, to rescue, but are afraid to need?
In the course of the years, I have met numerous couples where both needed to be needed, in a relationship in which both felt unappreciated and kept doing more and more while the other person was doing the same, and the relationship continued to worsen as each escalated this behavior. Imagine their surprise when a couple comes to see that they both want the same thing—to be needed and appreciated—and understand why their intense efforts to be indispensable are not working! In this case both people need to see what is happening and address their own issues and how they impact the relationship.
The holidays are stressful for many, if not most people. It is my busiest time, and I’m sure a lot of therapists would say the same. When people have issues of shame and perfectionism, and the other issues that go with them, they have some extra stresses that can maybe be avoided. Perfectionists have good intentions, and this can inadvertently make them exhausted and feeling very badly when dealing with holidays.
Aleta Edwards, Psy.D.
I am a psychotherapist in private practice, with a strong interest in shame and perfectionism. I will periodically post my thoughts about these topics and other observations relating to emotional health.