Gentlemen, if your wife has anxiety, I feel sorry for you. I know you put up with a lot, and my post, So, You Married a Stress Monster?, doesn’t even begin to describe how it must feel.
You watch the tears flow, the anxiety attacks happen, and the stress drain her energy. Nobody wants to see someone go through that, much less the person you love. Sometimes, she may even fight with you. Please, know it isn’t your fault. You are probably stressed as well, and she knows this, but anxiety can have such an intense impact on her mind. We may pretend to be tough, but we are fairly sensitive.
So, here are five things your anxious wife wants from you to help her get through her tough times:
- Listen and try to understand. I don’t mean just nod every five minutes while she tells you how her day went. She may not even want to talk about her day. (I never do.) If she tells you to listen, she wants you to really hear her. It’s not easy to understand any mental illness, but I guarantee she at least wants you to try. It’s okay if you don’t put any insight. She doesn’t want to be bombarded with questions or advice about her feelings. Tell her it’s okay if it takes time to explain things. It can be difficult to describe something if not even she understands it, fully. Never tell her she should do this or that. She just wants you to listen to her and really listen. She married you because she trusts you and she knows she can tell you anything.
- Go on a date. Just about any woman wants to go on a date. Her anxiety or depression might keep her from wanting to go a lot of places, but you don’t have to take her to a romantic restaurant or somewhere far away. Find out what places she likes to go to. A simple walk in a park might be enough. If you have kids, find a babysitter if you want. She may need a little time that doesn’t include wiping bottoms and noise. You don’t even have to have a set destination. Go for a nice drive on a quiet back road. Listen to some music. A date can be just about anything.
- Get her mind off of things. If you are both at home and unable to go anywhere, just do something fun together. Let the house be a mess for just a little while. Anxiety can make a woman think, and I don’t mean think about make up and recipes. It can make us think of every little negative thing. So, if you’re both not busy and can put off errands and chores for a while, ask her if she wants to do something. Ask what she likes to do. Does she like to play games? Listen to music? Dance? Get down and dirty when the kids aren’t around? It doesn’t matter, because what she wants is to spend time with you. You may be tired from work, and that’s okay. She could be happy just watching a movie with you.
- Help her. Housework, kids, errands, cooking, and anything else she needs help with. She could use a little time to herself. You don’t have to do everything, but she would love for you to do a couple of things so she can finish earlier. Watch the kids for a while so she can take a nap, read, or just relax. Do you have mad cooking skills? Make her a nice dinner one night. She will appreciate it, believe me. Maybe she doesn’t like to drive. Ask her what she needs from the store and pick it up on the way home from work, if you have time. Clean the house, together. It can be fun and good bonding time. A little bit of help can go a long way.
- Just be there. A lot of times, she just wants you to be with her. She wants a little of your time and nothing more. You’re a team, and your battles shouldn’t have to be fought alone. Marriage takes commitment. She loves you and wants to be there for you as much as she wants you to be there for her. There might not be much you can do while she’s having a panic attack, but be patient. You are her support through the worst of attacks. You don’t have to rush to her side and grab her in a hug. That’s probably not the best option, anyway. Be calm, stay strong, and learn what helps her get through it. It doesn’t even have to be through a panic attack. She also wants her best memories to have you in them.
Women don’t say exactly what they want, most of the time. Trust me, I am one. We throw subtle hints and expect you to know what we want. For that, I apologize on behalf of all ladies. We just get frustrated, easily.
So, what does your sweetheart want? She might not want anything that I have mentioned. Just ask! Ask about her interests, what makes her feel better when she’s sad, what she likes to do, and what her favorites are. Your spouse has anxiety. It’s a long journey for you both, but working as a team just makes it that much easier.
The most important thing to remember is she loves you.
Yes, it’s hard. No, it doesn’t seem like a “loving” relationship, but she chose you. She wants you by her side, holding her hand as she walks through her hardships. She might not say it, but she does.
Me? I just want a doughnut or twelve.
That’s not a hint, or anything, Dillon.