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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Being There
When we think of our partners and what we want from our partnerships, it can often come down to one very simple-yet very important-goal, when I need you, you are there for me. We need to feel safe. We need to know that our partners will “have our backs”. If we do not know that, or trust that, our anxiety can make it difficult to function.

You may have the experience of asking for help and your partner shows up, which is wonderful. However, you may also have the experience of not having your partner show up. There can be several reasons for that. You may not be able to ask for help. You may not recognize that he or she has shown up. Or you may have picked someone who has his or her own wounds that make it difficult to show up.

Let’s look at these one at a time. Because of your life experiences as a child and as an adult, you may have had the experience that it was not okay or not safe to ask for help. You have to do everything by yourself. Or you will be considered weak if you need help. Or you will be disparaged if you need help. When you look at any of these ideas rationally, they do not make sense. Most things we cannot do by ourselves. If you are building a house, you cannot do it all alone. You do not have all the skills. You need others there to help you out and to help with the heavy lifting. If you do not reach out, you will never be able to build your house. Life is no different.

Let’s look at the next idea: not recognizing if your partner shows up. If you were raised in a family where you were given the message that you were not allowed to have help, when your partner does try to be there for you, you may not even see him or her. You can change this a couple of different ways. First, give yourself permission to see your partner. Second, practice.

The third issue that may get in the way of your partner being there for you is his or her own wounds. If your partner was raised in a family or had life experiences that said that it was not okay to help others, then it will be very difficult for your partner to show up for you. I would encourage your partner to do all the above steps.

We all need to have help and safety. We need partners who are willing to be there for us, as we are for them. It can be scary, but it is well worth it!

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