When Your Love is Anxious
Marriage is hard work. It’s like trying to fit a triangle widget into a round thing-a-ma-gig. While it’s possible to make the triangle fit, it won’t work unless you adjust something-either the widget or the geometric figure. As for love, sure, you love each other and have the same goals, but the process—how to get there--often differs. While trying to get to “happily ever after” is hard enough, try getting there with a partner who doesn’t seem to be the yin to your yang. Now, image getting to happy while constantly being on edge, restless, sad, and tired? Can you imagine doing anything while trying to manage these issues?
Anxiety affects your health and wellbeing. It causes a general sense of unease and tension, which can result in feelings of panic and fear. These feelings are barely identifiable and understood by the person experiencing them. So it makes sense that as their partner, your experience is filled with anguish and confusion. You start to wonder, what in the world is going on, “I thought I knew this person I said ‘I will’ to 6-months ago.”
When trying to deal with anxiety your partner may be perceived as being selfish, and they are because it consumes them. They are trying to maintain some sense of care for you, but in reality, they tend to focus on how everything affects them; they’re not concerned with anyone else; they’re simply trying to free themselves from the feelings of overwhelm and pressure. The person working through anxiety is living in constant survival mode. It’s unreasonable to expect anything else from her or him. It’s like expecting a drowning person to try to save someone else; the selfishness isn’t intentional, it’s inescapable.
Below are a few tips to help manage your relationship until your first appointment with a professional.
What TO Do:
• Acknowledge that anxiety informs your partner’s decisions and responses
• Always listen openly, asking questions with the intentions of understanding
• Include/join your partner in self-care and mental health activities
• Get permission to help (ask your partner what they need from you)
What NOT To Do
• Do NOT Dismiss the anxiety
• Do NOT take it personally
• Do NOT try to fix it or them
• Do NOT patronize (minimize the problem or demean his/her experience)
When you are riddled with anxiety, living a “normal” life can be virtually impossible. It's even worse dealing with it alone. Although when one member of your team is struggling with anxiety, the dilemma can be an opportunity to reach a deeper level of love. By learning more about the disorder and loving your partner through the ordeal, the relationship has the potential for a much deeper connection.