Q: How do I know if my marriage is what is causing me all the anxiety I have? We fight all the time and I feel sad, mad, and exhausted every time we are both home. We don’t agree on a lot of things and we always seem to point fingers at each other.
A: Great question. Anxiety and relationships can be so challenging and we’re happy you reached out for our thoughts! Every therapist is different, so please know that our feedback is just one possible way to look at what you’re going through!
That being said, there are many things that can contribute to anxiety, for example, work stress or major life changes, but it sounds like the conflict in your relationship is your biggest concern right now. Arguing with the person you love is incredibly hard, so it makes sense that you’re feeling anxious!
You mentioned that you argue all the time, and in my counseling experience, I’ve found that couples sometimes get stuck in patterns of misunderstanding each other and need to find new ways of talking through problems. I would suggest that you set up a scheduled time to talk to your partner about how you’ve been feeling. Timing is important, that way you will both be ready to sit down together and really focus on a conversation instead of spontaneously trying to work through your problems.
During your conversation, try to let yourself be vulnerable and talk about the emotions you’ve been feeling, like sadness, or not wanting to fight with your partner. Sharing your feelings might help your significant other understand you more and recognize that you want to improve things in your relationship, not argue. By showing your vulnerable side, your partner will likely respond with empathy. You’ll also want to show understanding if your partner voices their feelings. Showing understanding doesn’t mean you have to agree with what your partner is saying or feeling, it’s just a way to move through the parts of conflict where you might be stuck reacting in old ways that weren’t effective.
If you find that this conversation goes well, you can try scheduling a weekly meeting where the two of you can connect and discuss any issues that have come up throughout the week. Knowing that you have a scheduled time to talk about how you’ve been feeling might help both of you pump the brakes on reacting spontaneously in the future. This could be a great place for the two of you to start, but you may also want to think about how you can take care of yourself since you mentioned feeling anxious.
What are some activities you like or find relaxing? Scheduling self-care moments in each day (something as small as having a cup of tea in a quiet moment, or talking to a friend on the phone) can help lower your stress as you work on improving your relationship.
I hope this answer helps and I wish you and your partner the best!
Emily Simonian, LMFT, M.A.