Almost all relationships experience a certain level of difficulties. However, when one of the partners has a psychiatric disorder, such as an anxiety disorder, the relationship will have new challenges, and their previous problems can be worsened.
Each has shown that people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were more likely to see their relationship as unhealthy. Additionally, they reported that they were at least twice as likely to experience a significant relationship problem, including frequent arguments on a regular basis, and lack of intimacy with their partner. The implication here is that these findings may be true for couples with other anxiety disorders as well.
Challenges for Couples With Anxiety Disorders
Because having an anxiety disorder is typically associated with excessive personal distress, it is equally stressful for their partners. It is common for the spouse of someone suffering from anxiety to take in more responsibility in the relationship with things such as finances, household chores, and parenting. When this happens, the partner of the anxiety sufferer can become codependent much in the same way as someone living with an alcoholic. Resentment can build for both parties as they become more isolated in the relationship.
Because anxiety sufferers often become disabled with anxiety, household routines are typically disrupted and chores tend to fall on other people in the house. The other partner often must take on additional responsibilities such as shopping, finances, and parenting they can become overwhelmed. Some people with anxiety disorders find it difficult to get or keep a job, which can cause serious resentment in a marriage. If the other partner suddenly becomes the sole breadwinner, even briefly, this can set up an imbalance in the relationship.
Intimacy is often impacted in marriage with anxiety disorders. People suffering from an anxiety disorder tend to avoid intimacy and other activities that can foster intimacy, such as social outings. This can make both partners feel isolated. Additionally, both partners may feel depressed and frightened about the future of the relationship. This can lead to more resentment towards each other. The partner with the anxiety disorder may actually resent the other partner for pushing them to get well.
Marriage Counseling Can Help
Although these challenges may seem daunting, they can be helped with individual psychotherapy and marriage counseling. It is important to note that with these interventions, people with anxiety disorders and their partners can have successful marriage, thriving careers, and busy social lives.