The Marriage.com Editorial Team is a group of experienced relationship writers, experts, and mental health professionals. We provide practical and research-backed advice on relationships. Our content is thoroughly reviewed by experts to ensure that we offer high-quality and reliable relationship advice.
If you suffer from anxiety, you know all too well how it can affect every area of your life.
Whether you’re newly diagnosed, or you’ve been wrestling with it for years, anxiety affects the way you feel about even everyday things and can make life extra stressful.
If you’re in a relationship, knowinghow to talk about your anxiety within it can be a real challenge. On the one hand, you don’t want to make a big deal out of it or bother your partner.
On the other hand, it’s something you live with every day, which means that if someone is going to be with you long-term, they need to be aware of it.
How soon you tell your partner about your anxiety is up to you. The first few dates might be a bit soon, but certainly, if it looks like the relationship is going to last for some time, it’s better if they know.
Let’s talk about how to explain anxiety to your partner.
What does anxiety look like in a relationship?
Anxiety in a relationship can look like persistent doubt, insecurity, nonstop worry, and a need for constant reassurance.
Anxiety can negatively impact many aspects of your life, including your relationships. A study found that anxiety disorders can impact relationships in different and major ways.
The survey findings also revealed a noteworthy correlation between the daily anxiety experienced by wives and the distress felt by their husbands. This correlation was particularly pronounced among husbands who frequently accommodated their wives’ anxiety symptoms.
Why is it important to help your partner understand your anxiety?
It is important to help your partner understand your anxiety because it can help them be more supportive and empathetic towards you.
Validating a partner’s feelings is important, but unknowingly shielding them from their distress can backfire, inadvertently reinforcing their anxiety. Hence, it’s important for both partners to stay on the same page.
One way to support a partner dealing with anxiety issues is to educate oneself about anxiety disorders. Honest conversations between the couple about their worries, expectations, or dreams for the future can also help them overcome their anxiety together.
7 practical tips to explain anxiety to your partner
If you’re ready to talk to your partner about your anxiety, here are some hints and tips to help you.
Pick the right time
How to explain anxiety to partner? Make sure the atmosphere is appropriate first.
Discussing your anxiety for the first time in the midst of a busy day or even worse, an argument doesn’t set the best tone.
While explaining anxiety to your partner, make life easier for yourself by picking a time when you’re both relaxed and have an uninterrupted window in which to just sit and talk.
Pick a place that you feel comfortable in, and where you can have plenty of privacy. You want your discussion to be relaxed and unhurried.
Have some resources to hand
Offering your partner some resources to read or look at can be really helpful. Have a look on the internet. Are there any blogs, social media posts, podcasts, or even cartoons about anxiety that you find really relatable?
Show them to your partner to help you explain and help them understand.
There are lots of mental health charities out there, and many of them offer web pages or leaflets that explain anxiety, so why not look those up too?
How to explain your anxiety to your partner? Think about things you’re going to say beforehand.
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s easy to forget what you wanted to say or find that the words just aren’t coming out like you wanted them to.
Help yourself through it by writing out what you want to say beforehand. That way, you won’t forget any key points or get lost in words.
You can even write it as a letter and give it to your partner to read if that’s easier.
Make it relatable
The bigger question is ‘How to explain anxiety to someone who doesn’t have it?’
One of the hardest things for people who don’t have anxiety is understanding how it feels. They might say well-meaning but unhelpful things like “Everyone gets nervous sometimes” or “Don’t worry so much.”
If you can find a way of explaining anxiety to partner so that they can relate to it, the conversation will be much easier. You might describe it as being on the freeway at night with no idea where to go or being alone in a creepy house.
Or you might explain that it’s part of you, like a shadow that you can’t just cut off. If you’re lost for words, look around online, and see how other anxiety warriors have described their experiences.
When your partner finds out about your anxiety, they’ll want to help and support you (or if they don’t, you might want to rethink if they really deserve your commitment).
Let them know how to help your partner with anxiety attacks. Setting out clear guidelines for what helps – and what doesn’t – is beneficial for both of you.
Everyone handles their anxiety differently. Talk to your partner about what they can say or do to help, whether that’s giving you space when you need it or cracking a joke when you get anxious.
Everyone has different needs – let your partner know yours.
Be ready to answer any questions
How to talk about anxiety with your partner? Just be prepared to handle the curiosity.
Your partner will need space to think about what you’ve shared and ask any questions that come to mind, so make sure you give them that.
Ask them if there’s anything they want to know or anything you could explain better. Be prepared to answer any questions in the future, too.
Be honest when they ask you questions – if you don’t have an answer, tell them that. Remember that this is new to them, so try to be patient if some of their questions don’t make sense to you.
Share what triggers your anxiety
How to explain anxiety to your partner? Let them know about the precautions.
Sharing what triggers your anxiety can help your partner understand what situations or events to avoid or approach with caution. For example, if you have social anxiety, you might explain that large crowds or parties trigger your anxiety.
This can help your partner understand why you might feel anxious in certain situations and how they can support you.
What are the positive coping strategies for anxiety?
Helping wife with anxiety or helping spouse with anxiety requires commitment and active efforts.
Here are some positive coping strategies for anxiety that you can help your partner with:
Keep physically active. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer.
Use stress management and relaxation techniques such as visualization techniques, meditation, and yoga.
Here are some more useful tips for dealing with anxiety:
Additional questions on how to explain anxiety to your partner
To further the discussion on dealing with anxiety as a couple, here are some more questions that you might find relevant while seeking support from your partner.
What can I do if my partner doesn’t understand my anxiety?
If your partner doesn’t understand your anxiety, it’s important to have an honest conversation with them about how you feel . You can also try to educate them about anxiety disorders. If you’re still struggling to communicate with your partner, consider seeking professional help through couples therapy.
How can your partner help you with your anxiety?
Your partner can help you with your anxiety by:
Listening to you and validating your feelings.
Educating themselves about anxiety disorders.
Encouraging you to seek professional help.
Helping you identify and avoid anxiety triggers.
Supporting you in practicing relaxation techniques such as visualization techniques, meditation, and yoga.
Face it together
Anxiety is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to damage your relationship.
With mutual love and respect, you can navigate it together and build a strong,nurturing relationship in which your anxiety is acknowledged and cared about, without it putting a blight on your life together.
The Marriage.com Editorial Team is a group of experienced relationship writers, experts, and mental health professionals. We provide practical and research-backed advice on relationships. Our content is thoroughly reviewed by experts Read more to ensure that we offer high-quality and reliable relationship advice. Read less
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