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6 Key Tips for When Your Partner Feels Anxious or Stressed

Written on December 6th

December 2018

We are sending you many cozy and light-filled wishes this holiday season. We know it can be a really wonderful and joyous time for many of you, and we know it can also be a time when stress and anxiety are heightened.

Whether it’s the holidays or any time of year, we live in a time when stress and anxiety have become an epidemic.

Not only does this have damaging consequences for our own mental and physical health, it also dramatically impacts our relationships.

That’s why we wanted to be sure to address it in this month’s blog!

Couple comforting each other

If you are in partnership with someone who is more prone to stress and anxiety, it’s easy to unintentionally do the very things that exacerbate the issue.

Instead, in this month’s blog, we share 6 key tips for responding to your beloved in ways that mitigate stress and provide greater peace and calm.

(1) Stay engaged, and come in closer.

When your beloved is feeling stressed or anxious, we recognize that your most natural reflex may be to step away from them — especially if their stress and anxiety presents itself as aggravation, criticism, a harsher tone, or any of the other not-so-warm-and-fuzzy ways that stress can appear on the surface.

However, if your beloved is wanting more support or closeness, when you check out, shut down, o​​r step away, they feel even more alone and less connected, and it triggers an even greater fear response, quickly spiraling into even more stress and anxiety.

Instead, lean in closer, and stay engaged in a positive, helpful, calm way.

(2) Use reassuring language.

Again, when your beloved is feeling anxiety, there is some perceived threat, and their fear/alert response is heightened. To relax the nervous system, use languaging that calms and reassures.

Your words can be medicinal in moments like these. Say things like:

“I’ve/We’ve got this.”
“We’re going to get through this.”
“I am totally here for you.”
“How can I help?”
“You are not in this alone.”
“We are going to figure this out.”

Partner offering comfort

(3) Don’t take it personally or get defensive.

When your partner is feeling anxious, they may seem irrational or speak to you in a way that feels critical. Although we would certainly encourage them to be especially mindful of their words in moments like these, it’s also important for you to recognize that their current perspective and communication is greatly colored by stress.

In fact, when we feel anxious, we are physiologically incapable of seeing clearly or the big picture.

If you react to their anxiety by taking it personally or getting defensive, you are only going to exasperate their stress. Instead, if you simply see it as a cry for support and stay connected to their hearts, you will find that their tone and body language will soften, and they will be more available to approach you from their hearts as well.

(4) Even one small positive and supportive action can make a difference.

A common pattern we see in our office is that the anxious partner can be perceived as controlling, nagging, or overbearing.

When this happens, the partner being spoken to often feels like they’ve already failed or won’t be able to get it right. If you feel like you’ve already failed and can’t succeed, it’s not very motivating to want to keep trying or to make any effort to help.

However, this simply isn’t the case. Just one small loving action that helps ease their burden can do wonders for communicating your love and support and helping them feel less alone.

Man comforting woman

Of course, if you are the partner more prone to anxiety, it’s important that you help your beloved feel successful, so be sure to praise and thank them for any positive effort they make!

(5) Rather than minimizing whatever they are stressed about, give them validation and empathy.

If your beloved feels like you don’t understand, they will feel compelled to keep repeating or accentuating the stressful item in order to feel heard.

Just think, if you were in a burning building and somebody told you it was no big deal, you would feel the need to shout louder and louder until they heard you and took action. This is what your beloved feels like they need to do in order for you to get it.

Help them feel heard by focusing on their good intentions. Chances are, they are stressed because they really care about something or someone — and that’s a beautiful thing.

Couple comforting each other

(6) Keep a strengths-based perspective.

Oftentimes, those who are more prone to stress and anxiety are also those who are especially sensitive, caring, empathetic, motivated, aware of what needs tending to, and/or on top of things.

We recognize it can be challenging to deal with the consequences of anxiety in your beloved. However, we fully trust there are also incredible gifts on the other side of this part of them from which you also benefit. As you make these special efforts we suggested here, we encourage you to keep the gifts of your beloved closely in heart and mind.

There is enough stress in nearly everyone’s lives. The last thing we need is for our relationship to be a further cause of it. Instead, we have the opportunity to turn our relationship into a healing haven, a buffer from the stresses of the world, and the place we go for refuge and retreat.

Couple comforting each other

If you would love some support in creating a more peaceful union that calms and connects you as an amazing team, know that we would be thrilled and honored to support you.

You are warmly welcome to schedule a free consultation or counseling session at this link HERE.

We also have our next Thrive in Love retreat coming up in February in both Indiana and Chicago locations. Our Valentine’s retreat always sells out, so we encourage you to register soon. It would make a beautiful holiday gift, and you would get weeks of joyous anticipation before then! 😊

We’re wishing you an abundantly peaceful holiday season, filled with the rekindling of your love’s warmth and magic!

Infinite Love and Joy,
Christine and Bret


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