It’s normal to experience anxiety from time to time. The stress of work, family, and relationships can be overwhelming. However, if your partner is experiencing frequent anxiety it can begin to overwhelm you as a couple. You may simultaneously feel concerned, frustrated, and conflicted about what to do. These strategies can help you support yourself and your partner in healthy, productive ways.
1. Work as a team.
It may seem that your feelings and your partner’s feelings are entirely separate. This is certainly true–but your happiness as a couple also depends on each other’s wellbeing. Begin with an intention to work as a team, while also meeting your own needs in the situation. Having an attitude of being in this together can help decrease any impatience and resentment towards your partner.
2. Get in touch with both partners’ underlying feelings.
If your partner has high anxiety, they might react defensively. You may feel reactive as well affecting the ability to communicate how you feel with your partner. Rather than reacting in the moment, practice getting in touch with the underlying feelings, and share those. Practice noticing when you feel overwhelmed and express that to your partner. Let your partner know you’d like them to do the same.
3. Separate your needs and feelings from your partner’s.
Because you care about your partner, and have your own needs and anxiety, it can be easy to absorb their energy. However, this may lead to a spiral effect, making the situation worse. Instead, practice noticing what feelings are your own, versus what feelings are coming from your partner.
Also recognize your own rights, needs, and boundaries in the situation. In some cases, it may be appropriate to change your behavior for your partner’s benefit. However, in other situations your choices may relate to your own values or needs. In that case, you have a right to meet your own needs, and your partner may need to adjust to the situation as well.
For example, your partner may get anxious when you don’t check in during the day. If it doesn’t bother you to do so, then checking in for your partner’s sake is perfectly fine. However, if you tend to be busy throughout the day and a fear of forgetting to check in causes you more stress, it’s also okay to express that. If that’s the case, look for a compromise that works for both of you.
4. Help your partner put structure around their anxiety.
If your partner is experiencing anxiety, it may be difficult for them to recognize
they are acting it out and affecting you. If your partner struggles with this, suggest that they keep their thoughts and concerns in a journal, to review later. You can then check in together once a day or weekly, as needed, to discuss and figure out how you can help your partner with any concerns expressed.
5. Find support for your individual and relationship needs.
In some cases, you and your partner may need outside help to address the situation. Your partner may benefit from individual anxiety counseling, and you may need support as a couple to work through anxiety issues. A couple’s counselor can help you work through anxieties relating to your relationship. You can both develop skills to better empathize and communicate with one another.
If you’d like to learn more about dealing with anxieties in your relationship, the Relationship Suite can help. Our counselors are experienced in helping couples work through anxiety and communication that may harm your relationship. Contact us today to set up a first appointment.
The Relationship Suite
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