Relationship Anxiety

What is relationship anxiety?

Relationship anxiety is a common problem among many Americans. It can come in a wide variety of forms and can happen for a huge and complex array of reasons.

However, there are several small steps sufferers can take in order to minimize the impact of relationship anxiety in both their and their partner's lives.

Recognizing relationship anxiety

Relationship Anxiety comes in many forms but the most recognizable are overwhelming feelings of panic, tension, and fear when the prospect of talking about or dealing with relationship issues arises. Physically, anxiety can manifest itself in sweating, shaking, restlessness, headaches and stomach problems - among many other possible symptoms. Behaviorally, anxiety can often cause sufferers to lose connection to the moment.

When always thinking about the consequences of the past or the possibilities of the future, it can be hard to concentrate on the needs of yourself and your partner at any given time.

Anxiety also often operates in a feedback loop - the prospect of confronting a problem makes one feel anxious, but putting it off and not dealing with it makes the symptoms worse in the long run. Learn to recognize this cycle and deal with it before it becomes too much of a problem.

Communication in the moment

Relationship anxiety can often be solved through clear and concise communication between partners. Take a moment to breathe and anchor yourself in the present moment. Consider how you feel and how your partner may feel about the way you express your opinions before you say anything.

When your partner is speaking, try to concentrate on their words and perspective rather than your own anxieties. Use physical closeness and actions such as eye contact, to strengthen emotional bonds and release positive endorphins that can help physically alleviate anxiety.

Building or restoring an open and communicative relationship with your partner can really help reduce the possibility of relationship anxieties occurring in the future.

Joyful activity

When experiencing relationship anxiety, sometimes it may be good to remind yourself why you entered into a relationship in the first place by doing something the two of you enjoy together.

Ultimately, only you know your partner well enough to know what that may be. But if, for example, you are stuck in one particular environment that is associated with anxiety, then simply getting away for an afternoon or a few days with your partner might help.

Joy and playfulness physically alter your brain chemistry in ways that are scientifically proven to help with anxiety and anxious thoughts.

Constructive action

After communication is established it is essential that you take steps to enact behaviors that will reduce the possibility of anxiety reoccurring in the future. If you feel your partner is too controlling, for example, explain to them that you need your own time in order to combat the anxiety that is making you both unhappy.

On the other hand, if you're anxious about possible infidelities or if jealousy is the problem, try to objectively examine your reasons. If your partner is genuinely behaving in ways that cause this, talk to them about it and tell them how you feel. If your feelings are more vague, consider the possibility your anxiety may be ungrounded and that it is, in fact, you who is the one that has to make the effort to change. Seeking advice from outside friends or relatives with an impartial eye may also be of help here.

Counseling or therapy

If you have tried communication and taking time out to enjoy yourselves but still find this hasn't worked - yet in spite of that you both really want to stay together - relationship therapy could be an option.

A recent study in the “Journal of Marital and Family Therapy” found that marriage counseling is able to help seven out of ten couples find higher satisfaction in their marriage. However, less conclusive results have been found in other similar studies.

As long as both partners in the couple can use this time to communicate openly, and the problems have not become too intense, therapy can be a good way to overcome anxieties in a formal setting with mediation and encouragement for both parties.

Moving on

Sometimes, if neither your or your partner is willing to change behaviors in order to combat relationship anxiety, it may be beneficial to consider ending the relationship. A negative spiral of anxiety can lead to depression, anger or suicidal thoughts.

If two people are feeding off each other's insecurities and anxieties yet refuse to end the relationship, it does not work out well for either party. Again, calm and objective judgment is the key here. Try to step out of your immediate feelings and look at the relationship with a cool head when not physically present with your partner.