Q: I enjoyed the two topics about “Shame” at your site. I am engaged to someone who I believe suffers greatly from being ashamed and these articles describe her. However, she has never described herself as ashamed.
I have a question: it is challenging and often difficult to manage in this relationship because I feel I can’t be completely honest about things I’m unhappy about or disagree on since those discussions always become more about her self worth than about the thing we disagree on. What advice do you have for being helpful to her yet standing up when I think I need to?
A; The corny phrase from an old song comes to mind: “The way to handle a woman is to love her.”
You can show her you love her without trying to help her with her shame.
You can show her you love her while putting yourself first and asking clearly and directly for what you want.
You can show her you love her while listening to some amount of her demeaning self-talk, and also by reminding her of the initial topic (what you want) and asking her to go back to that topic.
You can show her you love her by showing her the topics at my site about shame and self-worth and depression, and telling her that you think she could use some support and professional advice from a good therapist.
And if she feels enough love from you and others, and gets enough help from a good therapist, the shame will be replaced by a feeling of self-worth eventually, although it can take some time and it will require some patience from both of you.