For the third and final instalment, keep reading! 3. Patience is key
Everyone says that when you first get married, things are difficult because now you have to care for two people instead of just yourself. This is 100% true, and transitioning into marriage can be a really tough time for any couple. However, things can be even more challenging for someone with anxiety. My wife’s anxiety causes her to worry. A lot. Lauren has emetophobia. Lauren is often anxious about going new places because she doesn’t want to be caught off guard by stomach problems in a place she’s not comfortable with.
Often times she’ll want to leave a party or social gathering early because…”What if she gets sick there?!” Even if I want to stay later, we will always end up leaving early if she’s in the midst of a panic attack. There are other similar situations where Lauren has a hard time putting my wants and even needs first. For her entire life up until marriage, she had so much to worry about already. Taking care of herself takes a lot more effort than for the a person without anxiety.
When she got married to an emotional sap (me), she had to balance so much more than many other people. She already had her more than average amount of self-caring to do, and on top of that…she got married. To a pretty emotional dude. For Lauren to start putting me first (which we believe all spouses should do), it meant that she needed to start to put some of her needs second. It has been and still is a struggle, because even when she doesn’t want to…anxiety often takes over. “Anxious Lauren” can be very different from “Calm Lauren.”
For the man or woman married to a someone with anxiety, give them lots of time to slowly transform. It can be frustrating watching what appears to be selfish behaviour. Still, if you’ve had the conversation where you both agree on serving each other first, remind them of your standards and forgive them. For Lauren to put me first in everything means to put aside a mountain of of self worry. It takes a lot of time and hard work.
Even now “Anxious Lauren” will often respond in a way that appears to ignore my wants and needs, but she always apologizes afterwards and always strives to get better at putting me first in her life in every way. I know it is not just the anxious person that needs to work on being less selfish in a relationship. I have to work on it everyday too. But, we have both noticed that anxiety does make this a more challenging issue for Lauren.
If your partner with anxiety is acting like they care about themselves more then you, they might be. And you should always be in communication when you feel this way. Even so, they might truly be trying to put you first, but they’re having trouble because of all the worry that is a part of their daily lives.
Have grace for your partner, you don’t know what it’s like inside their heads.
And this is the end of my three part series. I hope you all enjoyed hearing from a different perspective!