The challenges of persistent anxiety are, without a doubt, a relationship stressor.
When life is difficult, our most cherished relationships will suffer the strain. However, that strain needn’t break us apart. Instead, we can choose to focus on growth and bonding.
Try to remember this:
…do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.- Isaiah 41:10
In other words, struggles with anxiety may exist right now, but relationships don’t have to be casualties of the worry and upset. Our relationships are never hopeless.
Furthermore, faith can comfort us and become a reliable springboard for practical, everyday support.
Our Relationships Can Help Us Face Fear and See Beyond It
Whether you are living with symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, or panic attacks, your relationship can actually be a healthy source of encouragement as well as a way to focus positive thoughts, shaping your perspective more productively.
Moreover, you and your significant other can ensure that your relationship creates an environment of teamwork and mutual appreciation. This can help you both remember that building your life together is the priority, not simply a safe place for managing fear.
Your relationship is a gift. Learning to see it as such when anxiety sets off alarms bells that threaten to pull you apart takes intentionality and commitment. Consider the following tips for keeping your connection solid.
5 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Strong While You Struggle with Anxiety
1. Understand that Communication Can Never Be Taken for Granted
You know personally that your anxiety is exhausting and frustrating. Your panic or hypervigilance may be confusing and tiring to your partner too. Failing to communicate what you’re both experiencing and why is a sure way to misinterpret or miscommunicate each other’s responses.
Checking in often reduces the odds that either of you takes things too personally or allows resentment to fester. Be curious and willing to share openly. That way, you reassure each other that the relationship comes first, strengthening your bond with every conversation.
2. Practice Acceptance and Patience and Compassion
Let your faith inform your treatment of each other. Your relationship will grow strong when you love each other the way we are called to, humbly and without judgment. Tough times challenge us to press into these three aspects of love.
Fear and worry are major factors in your relationship. You don’t want them there, face them together and accepting your struggles is key. Denial and avoidance will just lead to blame and stagnation.
Allowing yourselves to see each other as human and struggling, affords you the opportunity to reach out to each other with kindness and gentleness. You don’t have to fight each other or make demands. Instead, you can become each other’s soft place to land.
3. Actively Pursue Feel-Good Neurochemicals Together
Science tells us that proper diet, exercise, prayer, and even increased physical intimacy can boost the brain chemicals that elevate our moods and quality of life. Why not make a conscious effort to incorporate and increase those activities or habits?
Intentionally deciding to stave off anxiety as a team can help reduce alienation in your relationship. It also keeps your partner from feeling like there is little they can do in a proactive way.
In addition, you both do things that lessen stress and improve your health overall. Together you do more than combat anxiety, you also invest in a healthier, more deeply connected future.
4. Seek Help for Your Anxiety and Share Your Progress
Often, unintentionally, anxiety sufferers can place too much pressure on their partners. The need for reassurance, accommodation, and constant preparation for life’s uncertainties can wear your partner down.
We all need balance in our relationships. So, if your partner has expressed that they feel overburdened, respond by getting professional help and lessening your demands on them. And as you reach out to a therapist, share the processes you learn and practice new coping tools. You may very well find your partner is encouraged and inspired to engage more fully in the relationship.
Knowing that you are committed to recovery may make your partner feel less overwhelmed. He or she may feel more able to support you. Often, seeing our partners find ways to help themselves provides hope that change and a happier future is possible.
5. Get Help for Your Relationship
Finally, consider seriously the prospect of making couples counseling a priority. You may both find that you need routine support with healthy communication or resolving issues created by the challenges of your anxiety.
As with your individual counseling, couples sessions can afford you the freedom to clarify and express your feelings about your anxiety as well as your hopes for your relationship beyond it. Together, with an objective, specifically trained expert, you can choose the most effective ways to move forward and get away from ineffective patterns of interaction.
A Strong Relationship Is Possible with Faith and Commitment
Your anxiety is a challenge. It isn’t easy, but you can overcome it together.
Seek God and seek out opportunities to demonstrate your commitment to your relationship. With therapy and a plan in place, peace can drive out the fear that tries to come between you. Ultimately, don’t let fear keep you from remaining vulnerable, communicative, and grateful for each other.
I would appreciate the opportunity to help you build a stronger connection, please reach out soon for a consultation.
For more information about anxiety counseling, click here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julia Nelson, LPCA, LMFTA is a psychotherapist and owns a private practice in Henderson County, (Flat Rock) NC and Rutherford County, (Forest City) NC. In general, she specializes in couples counseling, anxiety and depression counseling, premarital counseling, and parenting classes. She is also a Certified Clinical Military Counselor. To find out more about Julia click here: Nelson Christian Counseling.
Want tools for your life and relationship? Get my latest blog post by liking my Facebook page here.