7 Ways to Help An Anxious Spouse

When Your Spouse Suffers from Anxiety

Given a choice to live in a perfect world, most of us would prefer that our marriages never have a challenge.  In my marriage, our challenge is that my spouse suffers from anxiety.

The Challenge Anxiety Brings to Marriage

What tests me the most about my husband’s struggle is that I cannot understand or identify with what AnxietyBC terms being allergic to the unknown.

[Anxiety sufferers] don’t like it when they are not 100% sure of themselves, others, their actions and decisions, or the future.

Communication is at the core of every growing marriage. Learning how anxiety affects my husband helps me clarify the impact it has on our marriage.

It is too easy to think anxiety sufferers have control over why they feel anxious when you aren’t the one with the problem.

In wanting to know how to effectively love Dennis well, I asked him how I could help.

Ways to Help an Anxious Spouse

  1. Avoid saying phrases like “Calm down. Or “There’s no need to panic.” Or “Chill.”

When an anxious person hears this, it only perpetuates the anxiety they feel.

Telling someone to stop panicking is like telling an addict to just stop using. Anxiety sufferers hate feeling anxious, just as addicts hate being addicted.

  1. Be present.

Assure them with your presence. I’ve learned to put my hand on Dennis’  arm or hold his hand when I see him feeling overwhelmed. My presence is more assuring to him than words.

  1. Pray.

When his anxiety is off the charts, I know (but don’t always follow through gulp) to quietly say “I bless your spirit with peace. I bless your spirit to feel comfort. May God’s loving arms surround and embrace you. Peace, be still.

(I love this translations of Mark 4:39 Hush, be still {muzzled}.)

Pray for your spouse in your personal prayer time, as well. There are days I pray without ceasing for him.

  1. Shhh! Words aren’t necessary.

This takes great self-control on my part, because I get irritated and want to say “just get a grip!’ Love is patient and kind.

There are so many scriptures I could quote related to anxiety and fear, yet doing this puts me right up there with the Pharisees. When you read the Gospels, their “I know more than you do because I’m a student of the Law,” is irritating, don’t you think? Among all the things Jesus called them in Mark 23, the nicest  was “ you hypocrites!”

The one my soul loves knows these scriptures and daily declares them. If I quoted these same verses to him, it fuels point number 1 above.

  1. Ask, “What do you need from me right now?”

Be prepared for the simplest request. “Please just hold me.” “Tell me it’s going to be okay.” “I want to be alone.”

  1. Seek professional help.

Encourage your spouse to see a therapist to help with this. And don’t exclude yourself from seeking counseling, too.

Seeing a therapist has helped me  comprehend how real anxiety is for my husband. It allows me the opportunity to vent, fume and question in a safe and caring environment. I think I’m better at loving Dennis better as a result.

A realization that I gained from personal therapy was recognizing I’ve felt responsible for carrying Dennis and his anxiety.

Recovery groups call this enabling.

As an enabler, I felt it was my role to protect him from anxious situations and find solutions to help him avoid triggers.

What a heavy and false responsibility I’ve carried! My loving Father pointed me to this next point…..

  1. Allow your spouse to face the anxiety personally.

Ultimately, it is between your spouse  and God.

You are not the RESCUER or SAVIOR.

GOD IS!

This month, Dennis faced his anxiety by doing it afraid.

Watch: Dennis Did it Afraid

I am thankful that whatever challenge we face in marriage or life, God promises to give us the strength and wisdom to tackle it.  Commitment to your marriage means working together with Him through every difficulty.

If our personal story has been helpful, please share this with others.

 

Photo by Stefano Pollio @ Unsplash

 

 

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