Man wearing a baseball cap and wondering what to do about his wife's anxiety ruining their marriage.

What to Do If Your Husband’s or Wife’s Anxiety Is Ruining Your Marriage

Marriage is based on a strong, unbreakable connection. You may have married your spouse with this belief. However, anyone who’s been married for any length of time can recognize this statement as the myth it is. And it is definitely not that way now. Now, you’re suspicious your husband’s or wife’s anxiety is ruining your marriage.

Persistently imagining the perfect union and comparing your marriage to that ideal, will not help you gain clarity about the validity of your secret fear. Perspective is what’s needed.

The following can help you begin to gain the perspective you desperately need.

Do you often wonder what to do if your husband’s or wife’s anxiety is ruining your marriage?

There is nothing as disconcerting as anxiety. And living with a spouse who struggles with constant emotional upheaval requires a lot of effort. It can be challenging and overwhelming, and it’s not unusual for that anxiety to take a toll on your marriage.

The good news? You don’t have to go on that journey alone. The fact that you are searching for answers to the issue means you care about your spouse.

It is quite possible to build a stronger, more resilient relationship with your spouse, and support them in managing their anxiety symptoms healthily and productively.

What is Anxiety?

To fully take control of the situation, coming to grips with anxiety is crucial. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehensiveness, such as worry or fear, and can be mild or severe. It’s a natural stress response, but it can mess with one’s head and relationships when it becomes overwhelming.

Think of anxiety as a pesky creature crawling around in your brain. It can make you feel irritable, restless, and on edge.

For example, someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder may feel like they are walking on eggshells around other people. Every social interaction gives them a tightrope-walk kind of experience. They feel like a fish out of water, as though they don’t belong at the ‘’party’’ because “everyone is judging them.”

People who struggle with any kind of anxiety will ruminate about past experiences and worry about possible situations that have not occurred. It can seem like they live in a world of their own. And this world usually isn’t someplace others can understand. It is this inability to understand your husband’s or wife’s inner world of anxiety that can cause you to wonder if it will ruin your marriage.  

Understanding the Root Causes of Anxiety in Your Spouse

To effectively support your spouse in managing their anxiety, it’s essential to understand the root causes. There are different anxiety disorders, each with its unique symptoms and triggers. They include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder

Various factors can cause anxiety:

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry
  • Life experiences (traumatic and other significant life events)

A potentially anxious person can have their anxiety levels triggered by things like:

  • Work stress
  • Financial difficulties
  • Relationship problems

If you find yourself constantly asking, “Is my husband’s or wife’s anxiety ruining my marriage?’’ it probably means you don’t yet understand the root cause of your spouse’s struggle.

As an example, Sue grew up in a household that struggled with poverty. Even though she is now financially stable as an adult, that childhood trauma has left her with a lingering sense of anxiety and uncertainty around money.

Whenever Sue thinks about finances, her stomach clenches. She obsessively checks her bank account, even though its balance is enough to cover her expenses. She may even avoid spending on things she enjoys, like eating out or treating herself to a new outfit because she feels guilty and anxious about it.

Sue’s financial anxiety would affect how she and her husband spend their money, which could eventually remove the sparkle from her marriage.

But trust me, 9 out of 10 times, it is not your anxious spouse’s intention to ruin your marriage.

What to Do If Your Husband’s or Wife’s Anxiety Is Ruining Your Marriage

1. Honestly Communicate with Your Spouse About Their Anxiety

Your spouse’s anxiety doesn’t have to ruin your marriage. Open and honest communication can be the first step to lessening the impact of anxiety on your marriage. Though you may find it challenging, several strategies can make the conversation easier.

Start by choosing a time when you and your spouse are calm and relaxed.

Don’t bring up the topic during an argument or when either of you is already stressed.

Active listening techniques like restating your spouse’s words, asking questions, and showing empathy can help you better understand their perspective.

Avoid offering unsolicited advice or trying to fix the problem, as this can make your spouse feel as though their feelings are not being validated.

2. Supporting your Spouse will Significantly Reduce their Anxiety Levels and Help you Enjoy your Marriage Again.

Your husband’s or wife’s struggles with anxiety do not have to control your marriage. With patience and communication, you and your spouse can work together to work through their anxiety and build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

Supporting your spouse includes developing a plan for managing the symptoms.

In addition to your other efforts, it is vital to encourage your spouse to seek professional help.

A professional counselor can provide your spouse with the resources to manage their anxiety, including therapy, medication, or a combination.

When to Seek Professional Help 

If you are concerned spouse’s anxiety, it may be time to act. So, when should you seek professional help? You should encourage them to seek a therapist if their anxiety:

  • Causes constant arguments or conflicts in your marriage.
  • Prevents them from participating in important family activities or events.
  • Makes them withdraw from you emotionally or physically.
  • Affects their ability to work or engage in other areas, including self-care.

A therapist or counselor can help your spouse learn coping strategies. And their coping skills will help alleviate the strain that your spouse’s anxiety is putting on you.

It may also be helpful to work with a couple’s counselor or a private couples marriage retreat so you can learn how to best work together and strengthen your relationship.

Having concern about whether your husband’s or wife’s anxiety is ruining your marriage is valid. It shows you care. When you put that care to work by encouraging your spouse to learn new coping skills and suggesting the two of you get support for your marriage, you’ll be able to have the clarity and perspective you need to know if you can repair the damage already done or if your secret fear is true.

You will probably discover your spouse does not intend to ruin your marriage. They are probably as worried about the situation as you are.

Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen, contact her here.

Mary Ellen Goggin

Mary Ellen is a highly skilled and intuitive relationship guide. She brings over 35 years’ experience with individuals and businesses as a lawyer, mediator, personal coach and educator. She received her J.D. at University of New Hampshire Law School and a Master’s Degree at Harvard University. Mary Ellen co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Jerry Duberstein — and they were married by chapter 3. Mary Ellen brings a unique blend of problem-solving, practicality, and warmth to her work. She’s a highly analytic person, with geeky and monkish tendencies. She’s a daredevil skydiver, a voracious seeker of knowledge, and an indulgent grandmother. Her revolution: helping people become the unapologetic rulers of their inner + outer realms. Read more about the retreats