Living with an Anxiety Disorder is typically associated with a great deal of personal distress, but
it can be difficult on the partners of those diagnosed with Anxiety as well. Significant others of
those suffering from the challenges of an Anxiety Disorder often take on more than the normal
share of financial burden, household responsibilities, and emotional support. This can lead to
couples facing a whole new set of issues, challenges and strain on their relationship.
Anxiety Disorder may interfere with one’s ability to either become or stayed employed. It can
even limit a person’s ability to participate in monthly bill paying or budgeting. When the entire
household financial burden is placed on one person (especially if this is from necessity rather
than choice) arguments and resentments tend to build and put undue stress on the marriage
therefore making finances a major source of a couples’ problems.
Routine household chores, running errands, getting children to school, and extracurricular
activities can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed. These family activities can take up a
considerable amount of time and energy and keeping the family calendar coordinated requires
great attention to detail. When one partner is unable to participate in completing these daily
routines, the entire responsibility will fall on the other partner. This may contribute to bitter
feelings and resentment within the marriage.
In addition to caring for their children and their household, the spouse without anxiety may also
take care for their anxious partner and/or modify family activities to be sure the needs of their
anxious spouse are met over their own.
People with anxiety disorders often avoid social activities and situations. Unfortunately, their
partner’s social life may ultimately suffer as well, leaving them both feeling isolated and alone.
Both partners may even feel depressed, scared, and/or angry because of the social limitations.
Helping your Anxious Spouse
Here are some tips in order to help one’s partner who has been diagnosed with an Anxiety
Learn about the specific Anxiety Disorder
Encourage and support treatment (Individual and Couples/Family Therapy)
Use positive reinforcement for healthy behaviors.
Don’t criticize the irrational fears associated with Anxiety.
Help to set specific and realistic goals.
Talk about panic, fears, and worries.
Be patient and calm.
Balance whether to push.
Learn relaxation and anti-stress techniques.
Understanding Different Anxiety Disorders
There are different types of Anxiety Disorders. Becoming educated on the type of Anxiety one’s
spouse is experiencing is essential.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
Is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. Expecting
the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern.
The extreme fear of being scrutinized and/or judged by others in social or performance
situations. Although they recognize that the fear is excessive and unreasonable they are terrified
they will humiliate or embarrass themselves.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
A condition that occurs in those who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, a serious
accident, a terrorist attack, death of a loved one, war, violent attack such as rape, or any other
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
Experiences unwanted and intrusive thoughts that they can't seem to get out of their heads
(obsessions), often compelling them to repeatedly perform ritualistic behaviors and routines
(compulsions) to try and ease their anxiety.
A strong irrational fear. They will work hard to avoid certain places, situations, or things.
Examples include animals, insects, germs, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, flying,
elevators, and dental or medical procedures.
It is essential for the spouses of those diagnosed with Anxiety to take care of themselves as well.
Engage in outside interests and hobbies.
Take breaks from the stresses of daily life.
Don’t become consumed with your partner’s Anxiety.
Maintain a support system. (Family, Friends, Support Groups)
Seek professional help for yourself, if necessary.
Attending family therapy and/or marriage counseling can significantly help the relationship deal
with the emotional issues that often occur due to the Anxiety disorder in the household. Couples
counseling can help develop the communication skills and tools needed for resolving conflict
and developing problem-solving skills needed to alleviate the issues that contribute to the stress
of both partners when dealing with Anxiety.