Categories
Marriage

3 Ways to Help Your Spouse Who Has Anxiety

Almost everyone I know has an anxiety disorder or at least has had a panic attack at least once in his or her life. With this in mind, I am astounded that people exist who have never had a panic attack or even understand what it’s like to have anxiety. One of these people may be your spouse.

Anxiety is like another language. Those of us who have anxiety understand it completely, but those who don’t have anxiety are oblivious to what we feel. If you have a spouse with anxiety, and somehow you’ve managed to live on this planet thus far without any panicky experiences, you need to show your spouse you understand somehow.

Based on my own experience with a man who has no anxious bone in his body, here are some ways to help your spouse overcome their own anxiety. For the sake of saving word count, I’m using the “she” pronoun. This is based on my own experience anyway, and I am in fact a woman.

1. Tell her (and show her) you care

Anxiety is a very isolating disorder. When you have a panic attack, you feel alone. You feel like no one understands you.

If you don’t struggle with anxiety, you definitely do not understand why your spouse is acting the way she is or thinking what she’s thinking. Anxiety is irrational sometimes, but to your spouse, those anxious thoughts are as real as ever. Instead of trying to fix her, show her you care.

In the medical drama New Amsterdam, Max Goodwin, the Medical Director of the hospital, always asks his team and his patients, “How can I help?” Be like Max Goodwin to your spouse. When she feels alone, take a hold of her hand and ask her, “How can I help?”

She may know the answer, but sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she just needs you to sit there with her and listen to her talk. Sometimes she feels uncomfortable and may need to leave a situation. Always show her that you are on her side, even when her anxiety confuses you.

2. If you need more information, ask questions

I had a friend in high school who was afraid of pennies. Seriously? At first, I thought she was just seeking attention, but when I asked her about it, her answer made sense.

It turns out that she believed pennies were dirty and was afraid of the germs on the penny, not the penny itself. Why she was only afraid of pennies and not other coins, I don’t know, but instead of judging her, I accepted her and met her where she was.

Fears like going to parties, taking public transportation, and even going to work can make absolutely no sense to others. On the other hand, those who have social anxiety, PTSD, or work anxiety are totally gripped with fear at the thought of any of these activities. If you’re wondering why your spouse is anxious about a good thing, all you have to do is ask.

For me personally, I’m happy to answer questions about my anxiety. It doesn’t embarrass me to explain my fears, unless you make me feel like an idiot for having them. Truthfully, I don’t open up to you or listen to your advice unless I know you’re on my side.

3. Take her mind off of the problem

Since I have OCD, sometimes the best way to help me is to distract me from my anxiety. My panic attacks dissipate when I’m no longer thinking about whatever makes me anxious. If your spouse has OCD or an extreme phobia, help her take her mind off of the experience.

While you will need to help her deal with the root cause of her anxiety in the long run, if you’re out with your family or on vacation and her anxiety acts up, you need to distract her and help her as fast as you can.

4. Remember that your spouse is not a project who needs to be fixed

Anxiety is a mental disorder, but that does not mean that your spouse is a project. Your spouse is a person. Your spouse needs you to love her, care for her, and walk with her through this.

Now that you are one, this anxiety is yours, too. I’m still a newlywed, but I’ve heard that over time, you start to feel what your spouse is feeling and think what your spouse is thinking. I’m sorry if you feel your spouse’s anxiety, but instead of fixing her, show her you’re on her side.

You can show her you’re on her side by:

  • listening to her without judgment
  • praying for her on a daily basis
  • pulling her out of a situation when she is uncomfortable
  • standing up for her when others don’t understand

Pray for your spouse with anxiety

Ultimately, the only people who could heal your spouse with anxiety are her and God.

When you don’t understand, pray. When you want to be there for her but don’t know how, pray. When you’ve done everything you could to fix her and she’s still struggling, pray.

I believe God will give you the words. I believe God will give you the wisdom to help her. I believe God will ultimately heal your spouse from anxiety.

On behalf of all those who struggle with anxiety, thank you for taking the first step toward understanding your spouse and her deepest struggle.


Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

Categories
anxiety

you’ll work, but you’ll love it!

My husband and I are very thankful for the team at Ramsey Solutions. As most of you know, Dave Ramsey has been teaching for 25 years about how to win with money. His motto is, “Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.” Along with his radio show, where he helps people get out of debt and build wealth, he has also employed several “Ramsey personalities” to focus on specific areas of financial struggles. One of those personalities is Ken Coleman, who talks about what you were born to do. He helps you find your dream job, and discusses practical steps of how to get there.

A couple of weeks ago I was starting to feel discontent at my job. But, after listening to Ken Coleman’s podcast, I realized that I’m doing exactly what I enjoy doing. I’m doing exactly what I’m good at doing. As he would say, I’m in my “sweet spot.”

Ken Coleman taught me how to truly pursue my dream. My dream is to work from home as a freelance editor. I’ve always imagined working in my home office, typing away at my computer, making myself available for my friends and family. What’s stopping me from pursuing a freelance editing career? If I really thought about it, nothing. (Visit this page if you need me to take a look at your novel!).

Through this season of self-discovery, God affirmed my identity in Him. He truly has called me to work where I am now. After years of uncertainty, now it is clear: He loves me, and He is pleased with me. Thank you, God!

Did you know that God intended for us to enjoy work? Work was actually assigned to us before the Fall, so it is not a punishment for our sin. God gave us land to work and oversee (see Genesis 1-3). As a result of the Fall, we now struggle in our jobs (and have work anxiety), but we don’t have to.

Here are some ways to fall in love with your job again!

  • Discover your dream job. Ken Coleman encourages his listeners to find our talents (what we’re good at) and our passions (what we enjoy doing). That is where you will find your “sweet spot.” Take some time to think about what you’ve always loved doing, and what you are good at doing. Then, think about what jobs will help you feel that sense of fulfillment. You now have your dream job!
  • Remember why. Sorry to break it to you, but most likely, you will not get your dream job overnight. You might have to go to school. You might have to get a dead-end job to build up experience or an income to fuel your vision. You may need to pay off debt! If you are not in your dream job, remember why. Why are you pursuing this career path? How is this job going to help you in the long run?
  • Maybe it’s not about your dream job. You may not enjoy your job for legitimate reasons. Your boss treats you like garbage. You have a conflict with your co-worker. The commute is way too long. The pay may be terrible. Before leaving the field where you work, try to pinpoint what about your job you don’t like. Do you fundamentally not enjoy what you do, or do you need a change of environment? Knowing the difference between a toxic work environment and not being in your dream job can change your attitude about your work ethic, and, dare I say it, your identity as an employee.
  • Search wisely. If your current job isn’t going to help you in the long run, maybe you need to look for another job. Before making the jump, consider why you want to leave your job. Holding nothing back, write down all the reasons why the idea of going back to work makes you sick to your stomach. Then, when you search for a new job, make sure the company doesn’t have those things on your list! Ask employees of those prospective companies about the work culture. Research the salaries they offer. Check the job description!

As the popular phrase goes, “If you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. You will work, but you will love what you do. According to Scripture, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). What makes your heart come alive? Pursue a job where you can love what you do, and your work will bring glory to the One who created you.


Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash