Husband & Anxiety

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  • #928408 Reply


    My husband and I will be celebrating two years of marriage in November. For both of us, it is a second marriage and we are in our 40s. When we first met five years ago, I learned that he had anxiety, but was on medication for it. I also picked up on the fact, pretty quickly, that he is a people pleaser. Both of these issues have been ongoing conversations in our relationship, but it just seems like lately his anxiety is really ramped up (it could be due to the fact that he’s going back into the office for the first time in more than 18 months starting next week) and we are fighting way more than usual. We didn’t fight at all in the early pandemic days, and then we started fighting a little bit more, but nothing unusual. Now, I feel like I am walking on eggshells and if I confront him about his anxiety it doesn’t work, if I show compassion, it doesn’t work, and basically, I just feel like I have zero options.

    What happens is that when having to deal with someone outside of our household, he wants to make them happy. However, it isn’t always in line with what I want or need. And when I bring up the needs/wants, not demanding, just saying, he makes snide comments. For example, I have numerous autoimmune issues that make staying with other people uncomfortable for me. When I told him this after suggesting we stay with his aunt (whom I’ve met once) he snidely said, “Well, I just have to face it that I just can’t travel like I used to.” I apologized and said that this hurt my feelings because he knew what he was getting into with me and that it’s hard for me to open up about health issues with someone brand new. Anyway, it escalated from there.

    Again, on the actual trip, we had a lot of bags/items when we dropped off the rental car and I suggested getting Uber. He didn’t disagree or make another suggestion. He then asked me what I wanted to do THREE times and I said Uber, but he apparently wanted to take the metro. But he didn’t tell me this. During the Uber ride he was being snotty and ignoring me and I knew his anxiety was high (though I didn’t know why), so I tried to rub his neck during the ride and he completely blew me off and wouldn’t look at me. Later I told him I was hurt and he denied being angry or anything. He just said that he didn’t want to be affectionate because he didn’t want it to affect his Uber rating. Uh… this started a pretty big fight because I feel like he wants to please an Uber driver in a city where we don’t live more than turning towards me when I’m trying to make him feel better and connect with him.

    So a lot of his responses come out like that because he has anxiety around speaking up for himself or wants to make everyone happy and cannot. It has only gotten worse, and I am not sure how to handle this. In the past, I would just let him spiral because I know I can’t fix it or help and it wasn’t an issue but maybe every few months. He’s on medication for it, and has considered a higher dosage or a switch, but doesn’t actually do anything to take care of it.

    It is also hard for me to go from being the most “amazing wife ever” to him making rude comments because of his anxiety. It turns on a dime and gives me emotional whiplash. I’m looking for advice for living with someone who has anxiety. I am in therapy, and the therapist is helping, but I think I need more help. What can you share with me? Thanks!

    #928421 Reply


    It sounds like he feels out of control of his life right now, which is probably due to the stress and difficulty he’s having with the pandemic stoking his anxiety issues (and perhaps removing some of the distractions or coping mechanisms he used to be able to use in life which are much more difficult with social distancing safety considerations), and he’s taking it out on you because you’re there and close.

    Even though he’s on medication, is he also going to therapy? Learning new coping mechanisms to handle stress in a totally different environment (pandemic versus pre-pandemic life looks quite different)? Do you know why his last marriage didn’t work out and what he did to emotionally recover / grow from it?

    It’s difficult when your partner has issues and doesn’t want to work on them, which is implied by your sentence that he considers medication adjustments but doesn’t actually do anything about it while you’re earnestly trying and going to therapy. There’s a limit to what you can do when someone doesn’t want to help themselves. I do wonder that if he had ways he could have small “wins” and feel like he’s regaining some control over his life if that would put him in a better mindset to want to help himself more, rather than feeling hopeless and overwhelmed and lashing out. It’s not your responsibility to try to make him feel any particular way, nor to reward him when he’s treating you unfairly. But seeing this as his frustration around a lack of control and a poor stress response may help put you on more solid footing to connect better so that you have more calm moments where you can talk and he’s able to receive what you’re saying about your needs and feelings.

    I think you can work through such things as long as he’s a willing participant and will step up maturely and take responsibility for doing something about his side of the issues. But don’t fall into the trap of overcompensating and trying to do all the emotional labor for both of you by yourself if he’s stubbornly ignoring his issues and looking to blame them on you. And hopefully I’m not saying anything contradictory to your therapy :)

    #928447 Reply


    You are walking the path to codependency…

    Is he still taking his medication? If so, has it been evaluated lately?

    #928457 Reply


    Maddie- no, he isn’t going to therapy anymore. He went when he went through his divorce and for a bit when we first met. I’ve been trying to encourage him to go back. His previous therapist no longer accepts our insurance, so I get that it is overwhelming to think of going to a new therapist (I just did that back in February) because they don’t know your history, takes time to see if you’re a match, etc. I am going to suggest it again, though.

    I love your suggestion about the small wins! He has been out of control of things (which is hard for him in normal times), or at least seemingly so. He isn’t happy with his body, as he’s gained a significant amount of weight since the pandemic began. Things are up in the air at work and now he has to go back in person. I went back in person in August and it took me about 6 weeks to really find a groove to it again and it was exhausting, so I’m just really worried for when he does go back.

    And you’re not contradicting my therapy. My therapist has been helping me with setting boundaries for when I’m around him when he’s anxious. Ironically, he divorced because his wife had untreated mental illness issues and is a complete shut in. He gave her a lot of time to make changes, but they were all empty promises. She’s not a bad person, but meeting her one time you can tell that her body chemistry is completely off.

    Yes, Raven, I agree. And he does still take his medicine. He hasn’t had it evaluated, as his doctor is near his work which is 1 hour away and he’s considering getting a new doctor where we live now (we moved in May 2019). But now that he’s going back to the office he’s hoping to make an appointment.

    It makes sense that he has chronic anxiety. His parents divorced when he was 15 and they both moved out of the house and left him and his brother to fend for themselves. Then, when he found a little control in his life at 20, his best friend died. Then he got married and his wife’s mental health took a dive after they had their son (which I consider another form of abandonment). He stayed for 14 years before his therapist told him he deserves to be happy, too, and he finally heard it.

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