Marriage & Anxiety: Strength in your spouse OR strain on your marriage?

Apr 29, 2016 by

Marriage & Anxiety: Strength in your spouse OR strain on your marriage?

It’s no secret around here that I have suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for years. There have been moments in this life that anxiety has completely shut me down, times when no amount of prayers or tears could drag me out of it. I’ve seen counselors, I’ve taken drugs, I’ve  learned all kinds of deep breathing exercises… There’s a moment I remember from my adolescent years where my high school boyfriend (bless his heart) tossed me into a cold shower for lack of any other way to figure out how to calm my anxiety.  **note, this is not the ideal method**

Anxiety makes me feel less like the person I want to be. #mentalhealth #anxietyisathing Click To Tweet

The truth is, anxiety inhibits my interactions with others, it lowers my ability to be social and it keeps me from functioning in the ways that I would like to. One of the only things that has made a significant difference in my anxiety levels in years is my marriage to my husband.  Marriage has been a rock solid foundation which has given me stability, faith in tomorrow, and a general calmness that I have never experienced before.

There are three major ways that my marriage has supported me in my quest to conquer my anxiety and although there are countless other times I have relied on my husband to support me through this, these things below are at the forefront of how a healthy marriage can help anxiety sufferers. 

  1. My marriage has built my hope and confidence.

I spent a ton of time in my early twenties feeling like I wasn’t good enough. To say I was in a rut would be an understatement!  I was in a long-term relationship that was going nowhere and felt like it must be because I was lacking some fundamental element that would encourage him to want to marry me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and why I was unlovable. My anxiety grew by leaps and bounds in this chapter of my life. Most of my thoughts swirled around the lack of hope I had for my future and my low confidence in myself. My self-esteem was lacking and I felt like there was nothing I could do to get out of this slump.

Since those moments when my husband and I promised to be true to each other through good times and in bad, in sickness and in health I have discovered that my most basic fears have been lifted.  When we stood at the altar of course, the last thing on our minds was the absolute guarantee that we were making to each other. I don’t think either one of us took into account the kind of “crazy” that comes with anxiety that cannot be explained with basic logic. I’m certain we weren’t calculating what that actually means “in sickness and in health”. I don’t think we thought about the ramifications that come with making that vow. My anxiety is definitely one of the larger issues and challenges we have faced as a couple and although it’s not what one thinks of when they think of a typical illness, it is a disease none the less. The beautiful thing is, no matter how big the challenge is, we signed up to tackle it together when we made those vows.

Dan’s approach to my anxiety has really been quite simple. He chooses to love me regardless, faces my anxiety like his next mission and knows that God put me into his hands for a reason. He is selfless about it, and amazing. He focuses on reminding me that we are on the same team, we are in this together, and boosts my confidence daily. Simply knowing that I do not have to handle any of life’s struggles alone, especially my anxiety has helped to alleviate the frequency of my panic attacks.

Since we’ve been married, my husband has told me I’m beautiful 239578 times. He holds my hand when I feel insecure, he reinforces our vows, he promises to never let me go…how can I fear the future when I have that?

  1. My marriage has helped to put my problems into perspective.

If something minor is causing my anxiety, we are able to talk through the details in a real and logical way to prove to my inner anxious self that everything is going to be OK.

Earth to Molly: the world is NOT spinning out of control!

Knowing that communication isn’t always easy, especially if I am suffering with some unrealistic anxiety or unmet expectations, I realize that sometimes talking through a panic attack isn’t a reasonable option. However, when my anxiety cannot be attributed to any identifiable triggers, it is important that someone helps to bring me back to reality. My husband can do that.

I feel like by working on our communication and talking through the little things I am able to get a better handle on what is truly important, what is really at the root of my emotions, and what things can trigger my anxiety. When an anxiety attack will hit me is extremely difficult to predict:  sometimes it can be brought on by truly life altering stressful situations (ie: hubby’s next deployment) other times a wave will come when I’m standing in the produce section on a lazy Sunday at the grocery store.

Because we are deeply invested in this marriage and have a true desire to understand each other we make an effort to communicate our feelings and thoughts regularly. That being said we aren’t always good at it, but his ability to try really helps me get a handle on the big picture. Dan’s ability to compartmentalize things, rationalize and ease my fears truly is what I rely on daily to understand how the world works around me. When he can crack a joke about what’s really happening, or change my perspective on a matter of minor importance it helps me to get a handle on what is really going on. Putting things into perspective in a way that I can understand and hold on to has been really helpful in crushing those anxious feelings.Exploring the benefits of a healthy marriage on anxiety symptoms.

  1. My marriage has helped to identify and minimize my anxiety triggers.

We spend a lot of time together. He knows me better than I know myself sometimes and he can see things in me that I cannot. By connecting our lives in marriage we have tethered ourselves for the long haul. Because of this, we are able to spend quality time investigating the ins and outs of my anxiety.

Together we have discovered some of the best ways to minimize my impending panic.  We now know that I am more likely to feel anxious when I don’t have a plan and a back-up plan. Dan is able to help me make lists and organize our day into a manageable order. In these ways we stop some of the anxiety in its tracks. I know that the weeks leading up to big changes are often the hardest. He’s pointed out that when I don’t get 8 hours of sleep I’m more likely to be triggered by something random, and when I’m hungry I’m just more prone to irrationality than other times.

We’ve also written down a list of the things that help me get through anxious situations (Drink very cold water. Turn off the radio. Pray. Count something. Make a list of what needs to be done next. Sit on the floor. Breathe. Hold something in my hands. Etc.) and he will tactfully remind me of them if I’ve forgotten.

The bottom line, of course, is that anxiety isn’t fun for anybody involved. It takes an infinite amount of patience and a whole bunch of trial and error. There are absolutely days when I want to wring his neck and moments when he totally shuts down and cannot help me. There are times when I want to scream at him (and I do) because he tries to logic-out my problems. There are days when he calls me “crazy” and I call him “mean” (toss a few curse words in here and there and sometimes it becomes a full-fledged battle). There are times when the tears outnumber the condolences. There are certainly times when anxiety gets the best of me and I am not the best version of myself. Sometimes my anxiety takes a pretty big toll on our marriage, and I know that my husband struggles to understand where I’m coming from and why I’m melting down. Anxiety is actually pretty tough on our marriage sometimes.

In collaboration with my friend Kristin, we’ve teamed up today to talk about how a healthy marriage can help anxiety and, on the flip side, how anxiety can put a negative strain a marriage.

To read the other half of this collaboration, head on over to Kristin’s blog, The Peculiar Treasure, to read about how anxiety can negatively impact a marriage.

**Kristin blogs regularly on The Peculiar Treasure but you can also locate her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. I’m so thankful for the patient men and good marriages that God has blessed us with. Life with anxiety isn’t easy, but it is so much better with my man by my side.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Stumbleupon
Hide Buttons
This website is using the wordpress plugin.
%d bloggers like this: