Anxiety and relationship problems may go hand-in-hand for you.
You spend most of your days busy and stressed, whether it’s with work, housework, family needs, or anything else that gets piled on your already full plate.
You’ve also realized that you’re filled with anxiety. Yes, that dreaded experience that overwhelms you and floods you with exhaustion and tension.
You already feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. You set high expectations for yourself, and you have big goals for your family. It seems like all of this striving brought along with it tons of worries and fears.
You feel like you’re beginning to crumble under all the pressure.
Anxiety seems to do that to you. You know, how it seems to make you feel like everything around you can be ruined in the blink of an eye. When anxiety takes over like that, you get irritable and short with your partner. Maybe they notice you being snippy or frustrated.
They eventually become pretty aggravated or frustrated themselves. Of course when that happens, you tend to worry even more about your relationship.
You try to start every day new, but oftentimes get caught up in worries and frustrations. You’re at your wits end, and your partner just doesn’t seem to understand what your mind goes through on a daily basis.
I get it; you try to calm your anxiety. Maybe you have some coping skills, you exercise, you find ways to try to relax. Maybe you’re out for a run, hoping that it helps to calm your nerves and clear your mind. But once you get home, you find yourself going off on your partner about dirty dishes, laundry piled up, and the meal plan that has yet to be made.
Soon enough, you end up feeling alone, like you just pushed them even farther away.
You spend your days (and nights) running through every “what if” imaginable until it all builds up and explodes out in a clustery mess of anger, frustration, and hurt. You want support from your partner, but when you try to talk through things with them, it usually ends up in you feeling overwhelmed and them feeling frustrated. Of course once that happens, it seems like it’s even harder for them to understand or hear you. You worry what’s wrong with you.
Anxiety has a way of making you feel all alone in your misery.
As alone as you feel, please know that anxiety doesn’t have to control you or your relationship.
You long for support, connection, and empathy. You don’t want anxiety leading your life.
So here’s my hope for you. I know it can be so exhausting and stressful to try even harder, knowing there will still be bad days. But I want you to be able to recognize when the frustrations in your relationship aren’t your fault.
That’s right. Anxiety is not your fault.
Neither you nor your partner are to blame here. Anxiety has taken a front seat for a while, and it’s created a pattern between you that fills each of you with frustration.
So I want you to recognize what it’s doing, and learn how to stop it before it starts.
First, you need to know how anxiety can affect your relationship.
Anxiety can take quite a toll on the quality of your relationship with your partner, but you probably already knew that.
Here are some specific issues to be on the lookout for:
- You might both experience more general, daily stress than what seems typical.
- You may have trouble staying calm in tense or difficult situations, when your emotions tend to run wild.
- You may perceive your partner as expressing some hostility or frustration about the issues you face with anxiety, which might make it harder for you to both work toward improving your relationship.
- You’re not on the same page with each other, maybe misreading signals and sensing more negativity than what might actually be there.
- With overwhelming anxiety, you may have a tendency to isolate yourself more. While quiet alone time can be good, this might also be isolating your partner, or dividing you both further as your partner gets out and you stay home more.
- You rely on your partner for comfort and support, and you end up feeling guilty for doing that.
- Your relationship is lacking intimacy, whether it’s physical intimacy (sex, foreplay, cuddling…) or emotional intimacy (deep conversations, connection). Maybe anxiety keeps you from initiating sexual intimacy, or accepting your partner’s initiation.
Those are just a few big signs to be on the lookout for. Remember, neither of you are at fault for this. But it’s still important to recognize how anxiety impacts your relationship, so you can both work together to create new ways of combating the anxiety and gaining support and comfort in your relationship.
Now that you have a better idea of what anxiety might be doing in your relationship, you can work on making some changes.
Focus on these 5 ways that you and your partner can combat anxiety, improve the quality of your relationship, and grow closer together every day.
When you catch anxiety creeping its way into every nook and cranny of your mind and your relationship, take note of this. Both of you want to be able to build awareness of when the issue is coming from anxiety and not from either one of you. Is this a realistic thought popping up, or an anxious thought? Is it pushing you toward growth, or holding you back?
Accept that you can’t control everything. When you recognize that some things (whether specific things your partner does or typical daily issues you face) are out of your control, you can begin to stop anxiety from running wild in your mind. (You know, how your partner didn’t read your mind about you wanting the dishes done before you got home).
Try to be open and vulnerable in how you share your thoughts, feelings, and needs. Let your partner know the root of what’s going on for you. They may typically hear your frustrations, and they might forget there’s oftentimes fear and worry that create those frustrations. Along with sharing, work to hear them when they share with openness and vulnerability as well.
Find ways to implement small, routine actions each day that help you increase the security and connection in your relationship. Spend 5 minutes each day talking with each other and asking how you can each support each other more. Share with your partner how you appreciate something they did that day. Maybe they need to know exactly how they can help you overcome anxiety.
Celebrate the positives:
Pay attention to when you both can recognize anxiety for what it is and you are able to stop it from putting you in that awful pattern of frustration and disconnection. Talk about what you each did that helped keep you both calm and connected. Celebrate this win!
Anxiety in one or both partners can oftentimes make it incredibly difficult to have quality time and connection in your relationship.
It’s normal for this to be challenging, so if you feel like you and your partner could use some extra help, don’t hesitate to bring the anxiety into couples therapy. You may feel like it’s only your issue to deal with, but that isn’t the case. Anxiety and your relationship are woven together, impacting each other at each step. Together we can pick apart the pieces and form a connection between you and your partner that gives you the security, trust, and comfort you both need.
If you’re interested in couples therapy, feel free to go to my couples therapy page for more information on getting started.