When Your Spouse Struggles with Anxiety

Marriage isn’t all sunshine and roses. If you remember your wedding vows, we said things like, “for better or worse,” “for richer or poorer,” “in sickness and in health,” right? Indeed, our commitment to our husband and wife is best tested when we’re on the negative end of those pair of words!

Sometimes we undergo life seasons where it’s difficult to handle our emotions. It can be at the cusp of a career change, or an overwhelming time of much responsibility that we struggle to regulate our thoughts and feelings. If it’s our spouse undergoing these things, it can be difficult not just for them, but also for us! 

Sometimes Daniel would be going through challenges at work, like having tensions with people he works with, or struggling with decisions that his bosses make which he has difficulty agreeing with. Things like these might make him confused and frustrated, and sometimes even uncertain about the future, such as causing him to question whether he’s the right person for the job.

Now, I’m not the perfect wife, so I know I probably could do things better when it comes to standing by him. But because we all go through times like that, I believe it’s important that we learn how to navigate the storms of life with our spouses. 

One of the most helpful things you can do when your spouse is struggling is to offer a listening ear. Oftentimes, they’re not really looking for solutions, or they can probably think of one on their own. 
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5 Important Things to Remember When Your Spouse is Struggling 

Here are what we believe to be the most important principles to remember in relating to a spouse who’s dealing with anxiety or similar emotional struggles: 

1. It’s not your problem, but you can be a helpmate. 

First, remember that whatever your spouse is struggling with, it’s not your fault. Instead, view yourself as the well-designed helpmate, someone who can come alongside your spouse. A good picture of sympathy and empathy to remember is this: sympathy is watching your spouse wallowing in the pit and feeling sorry; empathy is seeing him or her in the pit and reaching out a hand to help him or her to get out of it. 

2. Learn to listen without judgment. 

One of the most helpful things you can do when your spouse is struggling is to offer a listening ear. Oftentimes, they’re not really looking for solutions, or they can probably think of one on their own. But the need for someone to listen to them fully and without judgment can be something that you provide an answer to. 

One way to practice listening without judgment is to paraphrase back what your partner is saying. It helps you clarify that you’re understanding them correctly, while also making them feel understood and accepted. This can be a crucial step in overcoming anxiety. 

3. Ask for help if needed. 

While a listening spouse is crucial to our mental health, sometimes you might need the help of  a trusted older mentor, counsellor, or coach, or at times, even a medical professional. Keep an open dialogue with your husband and wife, and if you both find that outside help, of someone who has the qualifications and the experience, is needed, by all means, go ahead. 

4. Do emotionally-uplifting activities together. 

Some activities help improve our mental health, while others add to the problem. Some of the time-tested activities that are beneficial for our emotions and mind health are: reading a good book, journaling, spending time outdoors, exercising, listening to uplifting music, and engaging in art and handicraft. 

Pick one of these to do throughout the week, and experiment to see which ones have the greatest impact on your spouse. Doing it together makes it more fun, too! 

5. Make sure you take care of yourself, too. 

Being married to someone who constantly struggles with anxiety can be a heavy load to bear. One important thing to remember is that you need time to take care of yourself so that you can help take care of your spouse too. Yes, be the shoulder to cry on, but also find ways to feed your own mental/emotional health.

Helping Your Spouse with Anxiety 

When your husband or wife struggles with anxiety, it’s crucial that you know how to deal with it. We hope these principles can help. If you need to speak with a coach or counsellor, feel free to reach out to us, too! 

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