Living with an Anxious Spouse

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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.

 

Financial Burden

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.

 

Household Responsibilities

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.

 

Emotional Support

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

Disorder.

 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.

 

Social Anxiety:

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

life-threatening event.

 

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.

 

Phobias:

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.

 

Helping Yourself

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)

 Set boundaries.

 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.

About Staci Lee Schnell LMFT

Staci Lee Schnell Staci Lee Schnell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MT 2779) and a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. In 2016, she began serving a three year term as a Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Board Member. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Child Development from Florida State University in 1991. Staci then went on to earn her Master of Science Degree in Family Therapy as well as a Clinical Specialist Degree in Family Systems Health Care from Nova Southeastern University in 1993. As a therapist, Staci has extensive experience working with adolescents and adults providing individual and family counseling. She specializes in childhood and adult ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Couples Therapy, Postpartum Counseling and Medical Family Therapy. Staci is trained in Family Systems Theories and typically practices Brief Systemic Therapy (MRI), while still focusing on what is the best fit for her clients. Staci also utilizes the Gottman Method, Solution Focused Therapy, Play Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Staci understands that dealing with the challenges and stresses of life can be difficult and that coping with emotional pain, medical issues, and family problems can seem overwhelming. Staci enjoys helping to alleviate these issues and stresses in a non-judgmental, nurturing, and comfortable environment. She is concerned with the present and as their therapist provides the space for her clients to explore life relevant topics. Staci helps and encourages her clients to make changes for the betterment of their lives. Besides being a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Staci is the President of SLS Therapy, Inc. as well as the Clinical Director and Owner of the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida. She has been married for over 20 years and has two teenaged children. Staci is currently accepting new clients and offers daytime and evening appointments. Visit slstherapy.com/ for more information on Staci Lee Schnell. Please call (754) 400-1211 or email staci@slstherapy.com to set up a free phone consultation.

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