As a mental health researcher and author, I’ve seen and read about a large number of husbands trying to navigate the challenges that arise when their wife experiences anxiety. I also often get many messages from male readers expressing that their wife’s anxiety is ruining their marriage.
Although men can also struggle with generalized anxiety disorder, it’s often the women who seek help for this marital issue. Research shows that women are typically more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men.
One of the keys to reducing anxiety in a marriage is for the husband to acknowledge and validate his wife’s fears, even if he doesn’t personally share them. Instead of trying to fix the problem or make it about himself, he should approach the situation with empathy and curiosity. This can involve asking questions and reflecting back on his wife’s concerns to show that he is listening and understands.
Navigating anxiety in a relationship can be especially tricky because men are often wired to fix problems. But anxiety, particularly someone else’s anxiety, is not always something that can be easily solved with tools from the hardware store.
In this post, we’ll explore strategies that both partners can use to support each other during times of anxiety and build a stronger, more resilient, happy marriage.
Discuss Your Wife’s Anxiety Disorder
It’s all too common for husbands to avoid discussing their wives’ anxiety, convinced that bringing it up will only make things worse. In their minds, the hope is that by ignoring the issue, it will magically disappear or at the very least, become less of a problem.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Anxiety feeds on fear, and fear thrives in the dark. By keeping quiet about your wife’s anxiety, you’re only providing a breeding ground for her worries to grow and intensify.
Instead of shying away from the topic, try leaning into it. By approaching your wife’s anxiety with empathy and support, you become a trusted ally – someone she can rely on to face her fears together.
Before we proceed, I want to make a couple of things clear:
- Loving someone who suffers from anxiety is no walk in the park. While you may not be the one battling the condition, you’re still grappling with a whole host of difficult emotions. It’s common to feel like you’re walking on eggshells, never quite sure how to help or comfort your partner in a way that actually makes a difference. You may even feel like your own fears and desires have taken a backseat to your partner’s anxiety – like your problems don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
It’s easy to feel powerless and frustrated in this position, but it doesn’t have to be this way. By acknowledging your own emotions and needs, and finding ways to communicate with your partner in a healthy and supportive way, you can start to take back control of the situation. After all, a strong relationship is built on mutual understanding, empathy, and support – even in the face of anxiety.
- Anxiety is a struggle that so many of us face, yet it’s still stigmatized and brushed under the rug. But the truth is that anxiety often stems from a place of deep care – a concern for ourselves, our partners, our families, and those we hold dear. No matter what’s causing the anxiety, the experience of being constantly afraid and anxious is incredibly challenging.
Rather than seeing it as a weakness, we should recognize that seeking help for anxiety takes immense courage. It’s a bold step towards reclaiming control over our thoughts and emotions, and acknowledging that we deserve to live without the constant weight of fear and worry.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the juicy stuff. How can you show up for your partner when they’re in the throes of anxiety? And if you happen to be the one feeling anxious, how can you make sure your relationship doesn’t suffer as a result?As a BetterHelp afﬁliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.
Help Your Partner Deal With Anxiety
When your wife experiences fear and anxiety, it can be tough to know how to react. You may feel powerless and unsure of how to support her, especially if her behavior feels controlling or nagging. It’s important to recognize that anxiety is rooted in fear, and your partner may need your help to face those fears.
Instead of reacting with defensiveness or stonewalling, try validating your partner’s fears. You don’t have to agree with them, but acknowledging that her feelings are real can go a long way in building trust and understanding. Remember that anxiety can trigger a fight-or-flight response, making it difficult for your partner to think rationally or communicate effectively.
Take a deep breath and stay calm. Your partner’s anxiety is not personal, and it doesn’t define her. With patience and empathy, you can help her navigate her fears and work towards a healthier, happier relationship with someone with anxiety.
Does your wife have abandonment issues?
Be Your Partner’s Stress Reducer
Listen up, because here’s the truth: you may not be able to wave a magic wand and make your partner’s anxiety disappear, but you have the power to make a real difference in how they cope with it. You can either make things worse by responding with anger, defensiveness, or withdrawal, or you can be their stress reducer – a port in the storm when the waves are high. The key is to listen to your partner in a way that truly supports them.
To make this happen, there are some important things you need to know. First, there are four things you should NOT do when your partner is struggling with anxiety. And second, there are three powerful things you can do to be there for them and strengthen your relationship, even in the midst of anxiety’s challenges.
Test Your Partnership Dynamics:
The Ultimate Relationship Health Check!
Avoid These Top 4 Mistakes
When your wife is in the grip of anxiety and depression, it’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed. But as her partner, you have the power to make a difference in how she experiences it. However, there are some common mistakes that husbands make that can actually make things worse. Here are four things to avoid when your wife is feeling anxious:
1. Don’t Make It About You
It’s easy to get frustrated when your wife’s anxiety starts affecting your life, but it’s important not to make it all about you.
I asked my friend Jeremy about this very thing. Here’s what he had to say.
“In the past, I would say things like, ‘I don’t have time to deal with your anxiety right now,’ but that only made things worse. Instead, try to understand where she’s coming from and show empathy. I found that saying things like, ‘I can see this is really hard for you,’ helped my wife feel heard and supported.”
2. Avoid the Quick Fix
As a husband, your natural instinct might be to solve your wife’s anxiety by taking action. But instead of jumping to a solution, take a step back and listen to her.
I once had a client named Roger who struggled with this very thing. He always wanted to “fix” the problem. After working with him for a week or so, the lightbulb went off for him. Here’s what he said to me. “I remember this time when my wife was anxious about a project for her job, and I immediately offered to do some of the work for her. But that only made her feel like she wasn’t capable of handling it herself. So I learned to just listen and ask questions to help her figure out what she needed from me.”
3. Don’t Bring Other People into It
Bringing up other people’s actions or opinions when talking to your wife about her anxiety can only make things worse.
Going back to my friend Jeremy, here’s what he told me. “I actually made this very same mistake one time when I said, ‘Why can’t you deal with things more like so-and-so’s wife?’ My wife felt like I was comparing her to someone else, and it only added to her anxiety.”
It’s important to focus on your wife’s needs and feelings without comparing her to anyone else.
4. Avoid Judgment
When your wife is struggling with anxiety, it’s important not to judge or criticize her for it. Saying things to her like, “Why don’t you just chill? Relax!” or “You’re overreacting” can be hurtful and dismissive. Instead, try to validate her feelings and offer support.
3 Ways to Support a Person Who Has Anxiety
Are you struggling to understand your partner’s anxiety? Feeling unsure about what to say or do? Don’t worry, you don’t need to have all the answers. The most important thing is to approach the conversation with an open mind and heart.
To help you connect with your partner and support them through their anxiety, here are three tips to keep in mind during your conversations:
1. Unleash your inner detective and DO be curious!
You can start by asking some open-ended questions that could help you understand your wife’s anxiety better. Think of it like a puzzle, with each question you ask revealing a new piece of information.
Here are some questions you could ask:
- What kind of support do you need from me right now?
- What’s been weighing on your mind lately?
- Have you tried any coping mechanisms before?
- What are your fears and worries about the situation?
- Have you noticed any physical symptoms when you feel anxious?
- Can you tell me more about what’s causing your anxiety?
The key is to listen attentively and try to understand your wife’s perspective. Refrain from interrupting, and show her that you’re present and engaged in the conversation. Remember, you’re on the same team and you want to work together to tackle this challenge.
2. DO reflect and rephrase what your partner says.
Although it may seem odd, this step is incredibly important. It confirms that you and your partner are on the same wavelength and helps her feel heard and acknowledged.
Try saying things like, “I want to make sure that I understand correctly. You mentioned feeling like you’re drowning when anxiety sets in and you don’t know how to cope. Did I get that right?”
Or, “Just to clarify, you were anxious about cleanliness a lot as a kid because you were concerned about your sick mother. Is that accurate?”
3. DO Be Empathetic.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel. It’s about showing compassion and care for the other person’s emotional state. Empathy can be challenging to practice, but it’s crucial when it comes to supporting your partner through their anxiety.
When you show empathy towards your partner that is living with anxiety, you create a safe space for them to share their feelings without fear of judgment or rejection. By acknowledging their emotions and expressing your concern, you let them know that you’re there for them and that you care about their well-being. This can help people with anxiety feel validated and understood, which is essential when dealing with anxiety.
In conclusion, anxiety can have a significant impact on someone you love, and if left untreated, it can affect your marriage. It’s essential to have an understanding of anxiety, recognize the signs of anxiety issues, and know how to help when anxiety attacks occur. Learn how to calm an anxiety attack fast.
Seeking treatment for anxiety is a crucial step in overcoming anxiety and getting anxiety under control. Finding the right help may seem daunting, but couples therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety. With the support of a couples therapist, you and your anxious wife can work together to manage anxiety and prevent it from negatively affecting your relationship. Find a qualified therapist at BetterHelp today.
Remember, anxiety is a health condition, and it’s essential to find help to overcome it. By taking these steps, you can help your loved one find the treatment they need to manage their anxiety and keep your marriage strong and healthy.As a BetterHelp afﬁliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.