Your wife's breathing gets heavier as her eyes widen. She freezes, unable to move and barely able to speak. She is overcome with anxiety. You promise her the danger isn't real, but you can't seem to reach her. She is your whole world, and you would do anything to help her if only you knew how.
Husbands, your wife desperately wants your help. Here are 10 things she wishes you knew about her anxiety:
1. Things that happened a long time ago still haunt her today
She might occasionally have flashbacks or nightmares about awful experiences. Don't expect her to just forget about it. She needs you to bring her close and embrace her in a hug. Sometimes actions are far more comforting than words.
2. She's afraid of social events, but not for the reasons you think
She's not antisocial- she's afraid of being judged or humiliated. Remind her how beautiful she is and support her when she wants to go home by nine. It was a huge step for her just to get out of her comfort zone.
3. Logic doesn't help
Men tend to want to solve problems right away. Take a step back- you can't logic your way through anxiety. She might not know what triggered it, so try not to focus on the root of the problem yet. Hold and comfort her until she calms down and then help her through the situation.
4. She needs you to be patient with her
Anxiety triggers the fight-or-flight response, which is the body's way of helping us react to intense situations, even ones that are life-threatening. When things get overwhelming, your wife might want to run away from her responsibilities or try to fight it. Be patient with her to help her cope with highly tense and stressful experiences.
5. She needs to be in control of something
It won't completely get rid of her anxiety, but having something in her life that she can control will help her feel more grounded. Help her find something she can be in charge of, even if it's something small like what to eat for dinner or what movie to watch.
6. She needs a break
If she's in a public area, help her find a quiet place where she can be alone and collect her thoughts. If she's at home, encourage her to sit down. Take care of the kids while she relaxes. Even just a few minutes can make a world of difference.
Understand your wife's wants and needs, but never assume. Ask how you can help and genuinely listen to her. Learn what her coping mechanisms are and offer to attend a therapy session with her. She doesn't expect you to have all the answers, but she does want you to be there for her and help her through her anxiety any way you can.
8. She doesn't expect you to know everything
If you haven't experienced anxiety, experts suggest acknowledging that you don't understand what it's like to have anxiety or a panic attack. She knows you don't understand everything about anxiety, and sometimes she doesn't even grasp it all. You can support her by accepting her the way she is and not trying to fix her.
9. She needs you to be proud of her
Focus on her accomplishments rather than only mentioning her faults. Help her set goals and celebrate when she reaches them. This boosts her feelings about herself and helps fade the negative feelings of anxiety. It will also allow her to foster warm, happy thoughts about herself and what she's capable of.
Reassure your wife that she means everything to you by hugging her, bringing home a surprise or kissing her on the cheek. Those small tokens of affection will relax those butterflies of anxiety and fill her with butterflies of love.
Husbands, be your wife's central support as she battles her anxiety. Never underestimate the vital role you play in your wife's healing. Your encouragement can make all of the difference and help build her confidence and fill her with peace.
Sign up here for our weekly FamilyShare email and get more of the stories you love.