Strategies For Helping Your Spouse Overcome Anxiety

When your spouse is suffering from an anxiety disorder, you may feel at a loss for how to help. Anxiety can have a profound affect upon the marital relationship, but you can take steps to supply strength to your marriage as your spouse works through the difficulties that anxiety can bring. Here are some things that you can do to keep your marriage strong as you help your spouse with anxiety problems.

Provide Support

The most important thing you can do as a spouse is provide support to your partner. Generally, this means being open and honest about your willingness to listen and talk with them when anxiety attacks or lingering worries seem too overwhelming. People with anxiety may worry about burdening the people they love with their problems and often feel guilty that their partners have to live with an anxious spouse. Provide reassurances that you do not feel burdened by your partner and that you are more than happy to provide a listening ear or a warm embrace when needed. 

When having supportive conversations, endeavor to provide empathy. Empathy will help your spouse move through anxious feelings more efficiently. Avoid providing logical analysis of emotions or grilling your partner for definitive reasons behind the emotion. People with anxiety often know their fears or worries are not rational, but they are unable to control anxious feelings with logic in these situations. 

Spend Quality Time

Quality time can be the balm that helps ease the sting of anxiety on your marital relationship. Seek to plan activities that your spouse enjoys. Try to spend time doing active things outdoors, as both exercise and exposure to nature can help with the symptoms of anxiety disorders. When you do want to relax, opt to go to a concert or watch an uplifting movie at home. This time together will help your relationship grow stronger as you build positive memories, but it will also act as a buffer to keep anxiety at bay. Try to avoid alcohol or recreational drugs as a means of relaxing, as these can both make anxiety symptoms worse in the long run. 

Avoid Triggers

You can help your spouse move forward by also helping them to avoid triggers that will make anxiety worse. Different people will experience different triggers, but common escalators include:

  • talking about the anxiety too much. Refrain from asking how anxious your spouse is feeling or addressing the disorder in general. Thinking about anxiety can trigger anxious feelings and begin a downward spiral of worry. Instead, ask questions like, "What goals do you have for today?" These questions help you know the general state of your partner's mind without needing to dip a foot in the anxiety pool. 
  • doing too many things at once. Your spouse may not be able to handle a full plate of adult expectations, social and work responsibilities, personal goals, and the demands of family members all at once. Examine your calendar and try to simplify the days that are likely to bring extra stress. 
  • common life stress. Major events like weddings or funerals, pressurized situations like tests or evaluations, or changes in finances, living situation, or employment can trigger panic attacks. Try not to spring sudden events on your spouse, and spend time planning and budgeting to reduce the chance of unpleasant surprises. 

Seek Counseling

Another key component in keeping your marriage strong could be to seek counseling. For many people, supporting an anxious spouse can be emotionally draining, and personal counseling can help you get negative or overwhelming emotions off your chest without bringing further anxiety to your spouse. A counselor can also help you practice communication skills that can improve your ability to be supportive. Contact a service like Park Center Inc to learn more about counseling.