Anxiety In Marriage

A battle for a secure connection

Marriage is the joining of two people who are dedicated to helping and loving one another. It’s a great concept, but in practice, marriage can be full of anxiety. In this resource guide we’ll talk about: 

  • Marriage anxiety
  • If marriage can make anxiety worse
  • How anxiety affects marriage
  • Dealing with anxiety in marriage

It doesn’t matter if your marriage is a week old, a month old, a year old, or a decade old, anxiety can develop and affect your marriage.

Marriage Anxiety

Anxiety feels similar independent of your marital status. However, there is a kind of anxiety that is focused on marriage. This is called marriage anxiety.

Most people on the verge of saying, “I do” will experience this in some form. Getting married is a big deal and it’s natural to feel a bit of anxiety surrounding the change your life is about to go through.

However, there is a deeper version of marriage anxiety that stems from past experiences. 

The common experience of pre-wedding anxiety can be greatly exacerbated by general anxiety disorder, past experiences, and relationship anxiety.

What Causes Marriage Anxiety?

Trying to find the root of anxiety is a challenge that takes a lot of time and effort. You may need a professional’s help to better understand why you experience marriage anxiety.

These are a few reasons why marriage anxiety develops in people.

Attachment Style

During childhood we develop important skills like bringing our hands to our faces, tracking objects with our eyes, crawling, talking—you name it. There’s a lot that we develop during early childhood, and our style of attachment is one of those developments.

There are four kinds of attachment styles:

  • Disorganized 
  • Avoidant
  • Anxious
  • Secure

Secure attachment styles are developed in children who had their needs met, but for children whose parents were neglectful, they’ll likely develop a less secure style.

Avoidant and anxious attachment styles can create high levels of marriage anxiety. However, they can be treated through individual therapy.

You can read more about attachment styles and how they affect relationships in our blog series. Start here with part one: Dismissive Avoidant.

Past Experiences

Past relationship experiences can have major effects on your outlook toward marriage. Sudden breakups, toxic relationships, and other relationship experiences can create anxiety in marriage.

This also goes for witnessing divorce, childhood trauma, and growing up in an unhappy home. Experiencing divorce at a young age or witnessing the abuse of a parent can make placing trust in someone hard.

General Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is built around a very important strategy your brain implements when you’re in danger. If you’re walking down the street and suddenly you see a tiger prowling around the alleyway, your body will kick into high gear to help get you to safety.

The issue arises when this reaction occurs when there’s no danger in sight. Someone could be enjoying a book, eating a meal with their spouse, or just going on a walk when suddenly their brain decides it’s time to feel anxious.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can certainly cause or make marriage anxiety worse.

Read our full guide on generalized anxiety disorder to learn more about causes of anxiety, as well as symptoms and treatment.

Can Marriage Anxiety Be Treated?

Yes. Marriage anxiety is not a chronic disorder, and it can be overcome.

Attending individual therapy can help you process trauma and work through difficult past experiences. Because marriage anxiety typically develops from trauma, trauma therapy can be used to help patients process lingering trauma and move forward. 

All kinds of anxiety are treated, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Anxiety can come and go and even when symptoms seem managed they can come back.  If your spouse is experiencing sudden bouts of anxiety try to be empathetic about their situation and work together to find triggers or ways to help improve symptoms.

At Inner Balance, we offer individualized therapy not just aimed to treat anxiety, but for individuals who are in relationships with someone who has anxiety. We can help you sort through relationship issues. Reach out today to learn more.

Can Marriage Make Anxiety Worse?

That being said, marriage can trigger anxiety in several ways. 

The Idea of Marriage

Just the idea of getting married can cause anxiety, and for good reason. Marriage shouldn’t be taken lightly - it’s a big deal. However, for people with an anxious or disorganized attachment style, the idea of committing to someone comes with a whole host of what-if questions.

  • What if they get bored of me?
  • What if they’re an awful spouse?
  • What if we’re not ready for marriage?

Each of these questions comes from a place of anxiety and could likely be connected to past experiences with marriage.

Conflict In Marriage

It should not be a surprise that marriage is littered with conflict. It’s a normal occurrence in all marriages, but the severity, intensity, and speed of resolution can change.

In a healthy marriage, conflict can be resolved efficiently, but when communication is poor, or trust is broken, conflict is much harder to deal with.

Read more about how to fix communication issues in a marriage.

Conflict in marriage can trigger anxiety in both spouses. This anxiety can look like:

  • Fearfully anticipating the incoming conversation
  • Feeling unsure of the source of the conflict
  • Fearing how a spouse will react

This kind of anxiety can be generated from childhood experiences and experiences with marriage. A household with an unhealthy marriage at the helm will affect the children who grow up in them.

anxiety affects marriages, whether the marriage is the source of the anxiety or not

How Does Anxiety Affect Marriage?

An anxiety disorder can negatively impact a marriage. That being said, when anxiety does strike, spouses have a unique opportunity to support each other intimately.

These are some of the ways anxiety can affect a marriage.

Irritability

It’s normal for someone who is experiencing anxiety to feel irritable. That’s because their brain is currently sending them signals that are preparing them to either fight or flee a situation. 

During this time an anxious spouse might snap at their partner, feel overwhelmed by smells and sounds, take an aggressive tone, and bring up issues they typically wouldn’t care about. This can be frustrating for their partner because it can seem out of character.

Unhealthy Dependence

Anxiety in marriage can make the relationship feel unstable. This is especially true for people with anxious attachment styles. They desire a constant stream of reassurance that the relationship is valid and important.

Unhealthy dependence looks like this:

  • Indecision
  • Fear of rejection
  • Overanalyzing or overthinking
  • Expecting the worst-case scenario
  • Expecting constant contact and communication

Married couples should depend on each other, but an anxious-fueled need to be validated will negatively affect a marriage by creating unrealistic expectations. 

Read more about healthy levels of attachment and the difference between codependency and interdependency.

Avoidance 

Anxiety can make closeness incredibly difficult. People whose anxiety is tied to trauma, especially familial trauma, may have a harder time opening up to their spouse.

Avoidance is a common behavior that is caused by anxious feelings about approaching a situation. This makes it difficult to have constructive conversations about areas of conflict, difficult situations, or situations they feel anxious about.

Avoidance makes conflict resolution and decision-making difficult in marriage.

Dealing With Anxiety In Marriage

When approached healthily, anxiety won’t ruin a marriage. However, it can be a difficult roadblock to overcome before your marriage can be healthy.

Luckily, there is a lot you can do to decrease the symptoms of anxiety in your marriage.

Individual Counseling

Spouses are great and they should offer love and support, but they don’t make great therapists. Individual counseling helps decrease the symptoms of anxiety in marriage by giving both people a space to work through their personal issues separately. 

This might be one of the most important ways to deal with anxiety in a marriage. While you are a couple, it may be easier for you to process individually and then share the results when ready.

Individual therapy is recommended for marriages with a lot of anxiety issues. Inner Balance Counseling offers both individual and couples counseling. Start receiving the care you need by requesting a consultation.

Couples Counseling

Couples counseling helps develop skills that are important for a marriage. This includes communication, trust, and the ability to work through problems together. It’s a great option for married couples to develop new skills and make their marriage more healthy.

Understand Triggers

As stated above, it’s normal for anxiety to be triggered by certain events, words, and behaviors. If you want to lessen the effects anxiety has on your marriage, learn your partner’s triggers.

The best way to do this is to have an open and honest conversation with them. Let them know you don’t want to cause them any pain or anxiety and ask them what makes them anxious. If they can’t answer that question, try having a general conversation about anxiety and see if the two of you could glean any wisdom from that.

Understand How Anxiety Affects Your Marriage

Knowledge is power. The more you understand the effects anxiety has on your marriage, the better you’ll be able to deal with it.

You can do this in several ways including:

  • Reading this resource page
  • Having a conversation with your spouse
  • Thinking through your own experiences in marriage

While doing this, It’s important to take an honest look at your marriage. You might have preconceived notions about anxiety, your spouse, and why things aren’t working. 

Couples and Individual Counseling At Inner Balance

Inner Balance views you as more than a number. You are an individual who deserves the highest quality mental health care possible. Request a consultation to take the first step in receiving counseling services.

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Inner Balance Counseling

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© 2024 Inner Balance. All right reserved.

© Inner Balance. All right reserved.