Is figuring out how to deal with relationship anxiety a struggle for you? Most couples wrestle to some extent with anxiety when it comes to their commitment. This can especially happen at the start of a bond when it can be harder to know where you stand in your relationship. You may worry about whether your relationship will last or your partner will be committed over the long haul.
However, even couples in long-term, committed relationships experience anxiety in marriage. For example, they may fear their spouse or partner is no longer attracted to them or committed as they age. They may also wrestle with past hurts caused by the relationship or notice changes in how their partner interacts with them. This can cause them to worry things may not be as secure as originally hoped.
And then you have the issue of awareness. Some couples are quite aware of their relationship insecurities, and their chief obstacle is figuring out how to fix them. Others struggle to adequately recognize when anxiety levels in their relationship have reached unhealthy levels. They may only be able to notice that their relationship feels off or stressed.
Suppose you’re struggling with anxiety in a relationship. In that case, you already know how easy it is to repeatedly ruminate over an aspect of your relationship that is worrisome. If worry is causing added harmful stress to your bond, here are some ideas on how to overcome relationship anxiety.
Explore And Work Through Your Insecurities
In her ‘Psychology Today” article entitled How to Get Over Relationship Anxiety, Lisa Firestone Ph.D. shares the following:
“Insecurity, as most of us know firsthand, can be toxic to our closest relationships. And while it can bounce back and forth from partner to partner, both the cause of our insecurity and its cure reside in us alone.”
Firestone shares that the lower our self-esteem is, the more we tend to struggle with relationship insecurities. These worries can sabotage an otherwise healthy relationship if not properly worked through. You may specifically have to deal with some of the following and more:
- Anxiety after a breakup (that could be affecting a new relationship)
- New relationship anxiety
- Relationship OCD (where an OCD diagnosis or condition interferes)
- Separation anxiety in relationships
- Dating anxiety
- Overthinking relationship anxiety (constant ruminating and worry)
- Dating someone with anxiety
- Being in a committed relationship with someone who is regularly anxious
It’s helpful to first explore where your insecurities come from to effectively handle them. They may result from insecure attachments or even trauma from parents as a child. Previous or current relationship difficulties may also cause you to worry that things are not okay.
Try to become aware of where these insecurities originate from and why they exist. Then, you’ll be able to work on those worry points so they don’t undermine your relationship.
Remember Your Relationship May Not Be as Bad as it Feels
Your anxiety over your relationship is a combination of experiences deriving from your current relationship, past relationships, upbringing and many other factors. On the one hand, you don’t want to ignore your intuition if you feel like something is genuinely off with your relationship.
At the same time, it’s also helpful to remember that anxiety isn’t always an accurate picture of what’s really going on in your marriage or relationship. Relationship anxiety symptoms can easily cause you to jump to the worst-case scenario when there is no need. This is even more so if you were abused or betrayed in a previous relationship.
The more you ruminate over your anxiety, the worse your relationship will feel. This also increases the chance of emotional reactions with your spouse or partner. There could be accusations, arguments or doubts of love and trust chiefly because of high anxiety levels rather than solid evidence that merits actual concern.
Feeding Your Anxiety is Unhealthy, So Focus on Action
Suppose you recognize concerns in your relationship (we all have them). In that case, it’s very easy to dwell on those worries without actually addressing what is bothering you. This often happens without us realizing it.
The problem is, the more you ruminate about relationship worries, the weightier they feel. Increased rumination over your relationship also leads to wasted time, energy and health to invest in your life or relationship.
Initially, it’s understandable and even necessary to recognize and be bothered by something that may be awry in your commitment. However, continually dwelling on these concerns while not working towards a solution will only make matters worse.
For that reason, do your best to make a list of action steps you can take to better handle these worries. This may involve distracting your thoughts, focusing on the moment (mindfulness), communicating your concerns with your partner or receiving professional support from an experienced therapist.
Be Intentional About How You Discuss Concerns
As shared earlier, relationship worries can become emotionally charged. Part of this is because worrying over these concerns can make them feel more dire than they actually are. Also, you tend to focus on the worst-case scenario when anxious about your relationship. Past hurts in your relationship or elsewhere tend to pay a visit too.
The result can lead to confrontations by the anxious partner that are angry, accusatory, or overly stressed. The other partner can struggle with how to handle scenarios like this correctly. They may become upset or defensive when approached in this way. This often only further increases the worry and anxiety in the concerned partner.
If these patterns continue, this can lead to ongoing stress as a couple. The ultimate goal of communicating these anxieties is to decrease stress rather than add to it. For that reason, do your best to share your worries as calmly as you can.
If you find it difficult to stay calm, you might benefit from writing a letter that is direct and non-accusatory. You can also choose a time to discuss this with your partner when you’re rested up, relaxed and not as stressed. A therapist can also help you find ways to communicate how you’re feeling in your relationship while remaining calm.
A Mental Health Disorder Could Be Adding to Your Relationship Anxiety
For some, an underlying anxiety or depressive disorder may be contributing to anxiety in your relationship leaving you feeling that things are worse than they may be in reality. If you are feeling stressed and anxious about your relationship with no real evidence to substantiate this, it may be worthwhile to speak to a therapist or your health care provider. This becomes even more important if there is a personal or family history of anxiety or depression.
Being assessed and receiving treatment for an underlying mental health issue will not only improve your individual functioning, your relationship anxiety should also decrease as well.
How to Deal with Relationship Anxiety—Consider Relationship Therapy
While all of the points in this article can be “tried at home,” many couples benefit from couples counselling for overcoming relationship anxiety. An experienced therapist will help you find evidence-based ways to break free of your relationship insecurities and get back to a happier connection.