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Get the support you need to help a partner in crisis

Posted May 23 2010 12:00am

Is this song about co-dependency or compassionate partnership?

In most long-term enduring partnerships, there is a give and take that balances out over the long haul.  Along with the joy, love and fun times comes personal and couple challenges. Sometimes the challenges come from within a person in the form of unresolved issues from childhood or previous relationships. Sometimes the challenges come from the outside, such as, the loss of someone important, unemployment, financial woe, an illness. 

When a partner is rocked by a crisis, it's natural and important for the other partner to feel some worry and concern.  It's tough to watch someone you love suffer. It's a powerless feeling.

Yet, it's most helpful to stay in a place of compassion and love.  If your world is rocked so hard by your partner's crisis that you feel you must fix it or you'll crumple in anxiety like leaky balloon, then there is no-one available to keep the partnership boat stable in this rocky sea of confusion and pain.  It's helpful to keep your worry and concern to a manageable level, so that your partner has the needed emotional space to figure things out, with or without the help of a therapist, pastor or coach.

Make sure you take care of yourself, by talking with good friends, eating well, exercising, working on your interests, talking with an outside person.  Get the support you need to be a most excellent caretaker.  It's a bit counter-intuitive, but being a good caretaker starts with taking good care of you.  The person in crisis depends on the caretaker to hold steady and strong, which inspires confidence in healing.  Also, if the person in crisis is convinced the caretaker is taking good care of herself, then there is no need for them to expend precious personal healing energy on feeling guilty, pretending they are better than they really are or taking care of the care taker.  They can focus all their personal healing energy towards himself or herself.

So as the song says, "If something is wrong with my baby, then something is wrong with me.", is, of course, very true.  It's how we deal with those feelings that matter.

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