4 Calming Ways to Support Your Anxious Spouse
- Heidi Vegh Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2021 11 Nov
Anxiety is like a weed. It starts small, then takes root, spreads, and grows uncontrollably. However, this only happens when we allow it, succumb to it and give it the ability to take over. If you are living with a spouse with anxiety, you are not alone. This is challenging, and it can be difficult to understand because you may not suffer from anxiety yourself. You are most likely longing to comfort and help them but are not sure what to do.
To get to the bottom of the issue, let's first understand what anxiety truly is. Here is a quote from the American Psychology Association attempting to define anxiety as a whole:
"Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry."
It is an emotion. Just like any other emotion. Or is it? Those that suffer might say it is a physical issue or a spiritual issue. I believe it can be all three. I never suffered from anxiety until I lost my husband to cancer in 2013. I was reeling from loss and was consumed with fear, tension, and worry. Over the years, I have learned to cope with the help of the Lord. My new husband has learned what to do and what not to do when I am in a time of suffering. If your spouse is suffering and you are hoping to ease their pain, here are four things you can do to help them fight anxiety in their life.
1. Pray WITH and FOR Them
In the Bible, we learn that we have an enemy who wants to steal our joy and fill us with fear. The most important thing we can do for our spouses is praying with them and for them, rebuking the attacks of the enemy. We read in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."
We have the power of Jesus, who equips us to combat the enemy with prayer and speaking out truths from the Word. Although spiritual attacks are not the sole source of anxiety, it will do you well to start there. Pray against the enemy and rebuke him from the life of your spouse. Pray for peace over them and help them to realize that God doesn't want us to live an anxious life but a life full of abundant joy.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
We learn in the Word the power of prayer. More importantly, the power of prayer from a spouse. When we get married, we come into covenant with that person, making us one. We should not take this lightly. Praying for your spouse is incredibly powerful!
"Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." Ephesians 5:41
"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." John 15:7
It can often feel overwhelming to pray for our spouse when we may not be able to find the words. I recommend a prayer book for your spouse. Author Jennifer Smith has graciously written out 31 prayers for all areas of life. Keep this close, highlight, and bookmark. Don't be surprised if you start to see a dramatic change in your spouse and less anxiety.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/dragana991
2: Listen Without Giving Advice
Although their fears may seem irrational to you, when someone suffers from anxiety, they are very real to them. They don't need you to explain them out of fear, but they do want to be heard. It is not your job to fix them but to support and listen. Telling your spouse that their fear is irrational or crazy will only make them feel more isolated in their anxiety. Dismissing their worries and not walking alongside them will create more tension and division in the marriage. You are a team. Pray for God to give you empathy for your spouse instead of allowing annoyance or ignorance to take root in your heart. Let them know you aren't going anywhere; you are in this together. They don't need all your advice, especially from someone that doesn't feel what they feel. It may be impossible for you to feel exactly what they feel, but you can be there with open arms and open ears.
3: Help Them Find Physical Cause and Solutions
There are different causes for anxiety, and sometimes it is a physical one. I have experienced this in my life. I have found that if I am low in iron, it can cause chest tightness, leading to anxiety. Perhaps, they are drinking too much caffeine or eating too much sugar. Suggest they visit their doctor to determine what they might be doing in their lifestyle that may cause anxiety. Perhaps, a naturopath can suggest some calming herbs to take the edge off, such as GABA, lavender, or chamomile. Diffusing calming oils in the bedroom or taking a melatonin bath can do wonders for an anxious mind. I think there is a time and place for medication when needed, but instead of going down that road first, have them do some digging to find out what they can be doing differently. Perhaps suggest they talk to a therapist to help them rationalize or understand why they are anxious.
4. Help to Reduce Stress in Their Life
Anxiety can be exaggerated by stress. Try to combat their anxious moments by helping them narrow down what stresses them out, such as housework, childcare, etc., and do your best to lessen the stress for them. Set aside time to do things that will help them feel calm, give them a break from the mundane or help them with extra chores around the house. Instead of getting irritated when they are irritable or frustrated, put your energy into helping stabilize the home's environment. Ask them to try and figure out what triggers their anxiety and do your best to accommodate. They will be less anxious if they know that they can be loved, cherished, cared for, and taken seriously even in their most anxious state.
Anxiety can be a monster, but when handled with delicacy and love, you can help your spouse out of even the darkest and deepest pits. What your spouse needs is love, not judgment. Care, not disdain. They need understanding, not ignorance. It's not up to you to fix them, but as their spouse, you can help them on the road to healing and living the abundant life that God created them to live.
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Anthony Tran
Heidi Vegh is a writer living in Gig Harbor, WA. She is a remarried mother of four, navigating the blended family life after the loss of her first husband to cancer in 2013. She longs to use her writing as a way to encourage others who have experienced loss and guide them on the road to healing. She contributes to her blog found at www.thebreathingmama.com, sharing stories and devotionals of faith stemming from her loss and healing, mothering, and her blended and complex family. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Creative Writing and English and is working on her first book. When she is not writing she loves to travel, craft, and experiment in the kitchen. Visit her Facebook and Instagram (@breathingmamalife) to learn more.