Hello readers of I’m Fine, Stop Asking! I am Lauren’s husband, Jefferson. Lauren told me she would really appreciate it if I wrote out a post on her blog as a guest writer, so here I am!
Because Lauren’s blog often focuses on her anxiety, I figured I could write about what it’s like being newly married to someone who suffers from it (as someone with zero previous experience dealing with anxiety). So, here are some (hopefully) helpful tips for people in relationships with anxiety.
Oops! I mean people with anxiety. Although sometimes I do feel like I’m in a relationship with anxiety itself. Anyway, this is a three part series outlining three things I’ve learned. Enjoy!
1. Not understanding is okay.
I consider myself to be a pretty academic guy. I love learning. I love trying to understand new things. I even enjoy school. But these same loves are why my first point can be so difficult for me.
Lauren and I got married only three months ago, and over the course of our whole relationship, I’ve learned that I won’t always understand her anxiety. I won’t always understand why she does some of the things she does.
Lauren’s anxiety causes her to worry a lot. Before Lauren and I were married, I used to work for a family restaurant. The joint stayed open until 2am, and sometimes I didn’t get out of there until 3:00 in the morning or later! Most of the time (“most” may be a little generous) I would remember to text Lauren before I went to sleep after my shift had ended. However, the occasional time when I forgot, I would hear the next day that she was worried sick all night (not to mention the string of texts and missed calls on my phone that I would wake up to in the morning).
Lauren sometimes does something called catastrophizing, which is very common for people with anxiety. Catastrophizing, as I’ve learned from our couple’s counselling sessions, is essentially “blowing things out of proportion.” Unintentionally allowing something small to become something HUGE. So in this case, If I didn’t text her back before I go to sleep, it was very easy for Lauren to assume I’ve died the most horrible death imaginable.
I never understood how or why Lauren’s brain would jump to the conclusion that missing a goodnight text = unimaginably painful death. However, I’ve learned that the anxious person’s brain functions differently than mine. I needed to be able to say to myself “she has anxiety, and that’s just how her brain works.” It was frustrating at first, but as time passed, I’ve learned that it gives me the opportunity to try and serve Lauren more. Spending those extra two minutes to send Lauren goodnight texts would have saved her many sleepless nights. Not understanding is okay, because I’ve never been in the situations Lauren has, and my brain doesn’t work like hers. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to try to get it, and even when I don’t, support her and help her out along the way.
Note from Lauren: Sometimes I feel like Jeff has never been anxious or nervous or worried about anything in his life. I know that’s not true, but he’s never struggled with an anxiety disorder. All my posts on anxiety (obviously) come from my perspective. The other day I thought – hey,what’s it like to be dating/engaged/married to someone with anxiety when you’ve never experienced it first hand? So I asked Jeff to write a few posts from his point of view, hoping to continue an honest and open discussion on mental health.