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I fear my wife's over-caring will cause a breakdown. Please help.

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My beautiful wife has the biggest heart! She is always helping family and friends, but I think everything combined is causing her to have a breakdown. Her job is very stressful, we have a 15-year-old son that she constantly worries about, she's had to take financial care of her mother and emotional care of her sister (who is in rehab as we speak and seems just like her mom). People who dump all their problems on her, too. Everyday stress. And a husband who doesn't understand why she acts the way she does when she gets angry, which is getting more frequent!

I don't know what to do any more! I love my wife dearly and want to stay positive and help so much!

This question was submitted by 'Jon'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Jon, and thank you for writing in.

I think men and women both have things to learn from one another. Men can sometimes learn to be as empathetic as women and some women could learn to compartmentalize as well as some men do.

Your wife is obviously a caring and kind woman. But sometimes the best way to be kind is in a way that doesn't look like kindness. For example, leaving people alone to solve their own problems so they can develop resilience. Being 'the problem solver' can cause problems not just for oneself, but also for the people for whom you are trying to solve problems. I suspect it's the emotional worrying about others that may have been wearing your wife down.

We all have needs and if we continually ignore our own, then we become less effective at helping people in the long-term. Your wife needs to develop discipline in this area, to learn to compartmentalize and sometimes switch off from others' problems (even if only that when she 'switches on' again she'll be even better able to help them). Boundaries are vital and even emotional and practical support for others, if it's to be tenable, needs to be organized and paced.

I suggest you show your wife what I've written here. We have created a download for this, 'Stop Worrying About Others', which may be invaluable for your wife in helping her keep all her empathy, but also be able to look after herself properly and make time for you, too, perhaps. : )

All best wishes,

Mark

watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - August 3rd, 2014 in

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