My spouse and I have struggled with marriage problems for years and years. I have begged to go to therapy or counseling but my spouse refuses to let anyone know we are struggling and not perfect. It’s like she would rather get divorced than admit we need help. What can I do? Why are people so reluctant to ask for help?
I’m so glad you asked this question. Just last week, Matt Townsend and I were discussing why so many couples wait until their marriages are hanging by a thread before they seek professional help. At this point awful things have been said and done, and it’s much more difficult to repair the relationship. It breaks our hearts that they don’t ask for help sooner. If you would seek out help at the first sign of trouble, repairing the relationship would be a hundred times easier and you could save yourself years of suffering.
If you didn't do that, the best time to ask for help is today.
Ask your spouse if she would be open to at least read this article and consider changing her mind.
People are reluctant to admit they need help because somewhere in the course of their life they picked up an inaccurate idea (policy) around what it means to ask for help. Here are some common fear-based policies they might have learned in childhood. See if any of them sound familiar:
Refusing to ask for help can also create isolation and make you come across as arrogant. You are literally putting yourself above other people (the mere mortals who need help from other people). You are giving power to the idea that we should all be perfect from the beginning instead of struggling students in the classroom of life.
The truth is, we are students in the classroom of life. We are works in progress who at no point are ever going to be perfect and have it all figured out and not need any help from anyone else. There is no such thing as independence. We are all interdependent here. We all serve each other as teachers and students.
There is no shame in being the student on occasion. It is what you are meant to be. Learning is what you are here for. Have I shared with you my favorite definition for the word SHAME?
It is an acronym — Should Have Already Mastered Everything.
How ridiculous is that? You can’t know everything and be an expert at every dimension of living. That isn't possible. You must learn to be honest, genuine and vulnerable and admit you need help once in awhile. You must also remember that doing this does not affect your value.
Your value is infinite and absolute (it is not changeable or on the line because life is a classroom, not a test). This means that whether you ask for help or not, your value is the same.
When you really understand this principle, it will take the fear of looking bad off the table. You will stop worrying about what others think and focus on learning and growing instead.
What you really want is to be a strong, wise person, right? But strong, wise people aren’t those who are trying to impress others with their perfectness. People who are trying to impress are actually terribly afraid they aren’t good enough, which is why they feel they have to impress. They think they must pretend to be perfect to even have value.
Real strong and wise people don’t need to pretend anything because they know their value is infinite either way. Real strong, wise people are basically fearless.
This means they have no fear of doing anything (or at least they know how to choose this mindset in any situation), which means they can ask for help, be vulnerable and even look stupid, and none of these experiences change how they feel about themselves.
Their value is the same regardless of what anyone thinks of them.
Strong people ask for help because they understand that in being real enough to admit they don’t know it all, they give other people permission to be imperfect (and still have infinite value) too. They make other people feel more accepted and honored despite their faults.
We all like people who are genuine and not trying to impress us.
Asking for help in front of your children is the only way to teach your children they have nothing to fear by asking questions and admitting they didn’t know it all. And this is a lesson you want your children to learn. Don’t pass on inaccurate fear-based policies to your kids.
Here are some ways you can ease into asking for help (and being more strong and wise):
You can do it!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "CHOOSING CLARITY: The Path to Fearlessness." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.