Marriage In A Box Logo

Don't Let Fear Ruin Your Happiness with Your Spouse

Posted on

Anxiety can easily creep into our relationships, and the fear of being close to others can make emotional intimacy challenging. Such concerns center around feelings of vulnerability, inadequacy, or fears related to taking on responsibility. Very often, the response to such feelings is to find ways to gain emotional distance. These relationships often fail to gain momentum, falter, lose direction, and eventually die from a lack of deep connection.

There must be a sense of safety or freedom to experience joy. Anxiety causes negative thoughts and fears, taking pleasure out of a relationship, and may hinder sex and intimacy.

Anxiety Causes Fear and Worry

  •  Anxiety breaks down trust and connection. Building trust within your relationship may reduce the power of concerns. Trust can be built by sharing fears and worries and helping each other work through them with warmth.
  • Anxiety causes fear or worries, making it difficult to pay attention to what is happening, and your partner may feel you aren't present. Openly share when you're worried, and try to reach out to your partner rather than withdraw or attack in fear.
  • Anxiety crushes your authentic voice, creating panic or procrastination. Acknowledging your feelings, asking for support sooner rather than later, and getting the help you need are healthier strategies. Try expressing true feelings to your partner and pause before hastily discussing stressful thoughts.
  • Anxiety causes you to be self-focused. You may focus too much on your concerns, putting unnecessary pressure on your relationship. Keeping your stress levels under control can be especially hard when your partner feels anxious, upset, or defensive.  
  • Anxiety robs you of joy. Anxiety makes us feel either fearful or limited and can hinder enjoying sex and intimacy and take the joy out of a moment. Humor can help overcome fear and help you laugh and play with your partner. Joy physically heals and comforts the brain in significant ways for a healthy relationship. As anxiety weakens, your relationship strengthens.

What do Men and Women in Relationships Fear?

Fear and Shame

It is common for females to fear abandonment: isolation, neglect, rejection, and feeling alone.

Most women thrive on closeness and connection. So naturally, if there is any issue, women need to discuss it to feel connected again. 

The most common male fear is inadequacy which causes shame: embarrassment, weakness, and fear of failure.

Men pride themselves on being able to please their partner and may feel like they've disappointed their spouse if there is any issue.

When partners trigger each other's fears, they may go into fight or flight and release the stress hormone cortisol, causing them to feel the need to defend themselves and withdraw. The spiral of Fear/Shame is a vicious cycle that breeds more disconnection and hurt.

 What's the Solution?

Stay Connected-Be vulnerable. Our Fears and Anxieties stem from unrealistic expectations. There are a few things you can stop doing right now to help decrease the fear and anxiety cycle:

Here are some strategies to help the male partner.

  • Don't expect his actions and responses to be just like yours.
  • Tell him your desires instead of your complaint and catch him doing something right rather than criticizing. Use phrases such as: "I love it when you…".
  • Regularly having sex deepens the feeling of connection. Be physically affectionate every day. (A kiss, a hug, a hand massage, a butt pat).
  • Don't expect him to make you
  • Be deliberate in being supportive sometimes too.
  • Avoid overdoing support requests because neediness can slowly quench desire over time.

Here are strategies for helping the female partner:

  • Do your share of the household chores.
  • Please don't leave her out of important aspects of your life. Open your heart and mind to her, and let her in.
  • Be physically affectionate every day. (A kiss, a hug, a hand massage, a butt pat).
  • Don't expect her to have the same sex drive as you.
  • Don't ignore or dismiss her bids for connection. Routinely connect with her throughout the day.

Communicate: Tough Conversations can bring you closer together.

All relationships have to deal with tough things now and then. Trust that you and your partner can cope with a challenging discussion which will build your relationship. Choose your words and tone carefully, and listen to the other person's words.

Let Your Partner See You as a Support.

Be a support to your partner also to make sure your partner knows that it doesn't matter how big or small their struggles are. There's healing in the warmth of the person you love, so ask, hold, and touch. Anxious thoughts are very personal but letting your partner in on them is essential to intimacy. 

Connection is the Cure.

The way out of the Fear/Shame spiral is by recognizing you're in it, being compassionate, and empathizing with your spouse's fears. Fear and shame are signs of disconnection and present an opportunity for connection and reassurance, decreasing tension and hostility. Life is messy and chaotic, and disconnecting is sometimes inevitable. But when fear and shame try to sneak in, they can be recognized and stopped by reconnecting.

If you're having difficulty overcoming fear and anxiety in your relationship, seeking outside support can be helpful.

Marriage In a Box is a great resource that gives you access to the simple tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the site. You can set goals and earn rewards. Feel free to check out the available kit and sources of information online.

Download Our Worksheet And Discover Your Top Relational Desires! Sign up for a free trial of the Marriage In A Box online tracking tool!

Long-term solutions to the most common relationship struggles.

See how it works