Jan 312021 2 Responses

How Anxious Is Your Marriage?

When we think about anxiety, we often think about ourselves. Anxiety is something that rests within an individual. Yet there is another aspect of anxiety which we rarely consider. Tension, worry, concern, and fear not only exist within an individual but also between people, even married people.

An underlying drag on many relationships is fear.

Fear Hinders Growth

The danger of fear is it hinders our ability to move forward. Anxiety causes a relationship to get stuck. We don’t learn new skills, conquer old habits, or mature into deeper intimacy. Instead, we stop. Stop growing, developing, maturing, and moving. Fear paralyzes us.

As a matter of fact, show me a couple who is stuck and I will show you a couple who is being ruled by fear.

How Anxiety Expresses Itself

The problem with fear in marriage is that while it is present in every relationship, very few people recognize it. But in talking with couples, I hear it all the time:

  • A man stuck in addiction promises to stop drinking, but always find an excuse not to go to a meeting
  • A woman who every time the conversation gets tense begins to yell and talk over her spouse
  • Couples who know they have significant problems but refuse to ever mention them or do anything about them
  • Ever-increasing debt

It’s all fear. Fear of missing out. Fear of being vulnerable and showing that we don’t have all the answers. The fear of being rejected.

Notice what happens. Anxiety within a relationship leads to bad choices which in turn likely leads to more anxiety.

First, Recognize It

The first step in lowering the impact of fear in a relationship is to recognize it. What are the ways in which you are responding in fear? It expresses itself in:

Communication. Fearing vulnerability or rejection, we yell or stonewall, lie, or don’t fully say what we think.

Money. Afraid that we will be seen as not having it all together, we go into debt in order to keep up appearances rather than living in our true state.

Intimacy. Fear keeps some from growing in intimacy with one another. They repress sexual expression. Others fear loneliness or rejection so they seek sexual fulfillment in inappropriate ways outside of the relationship.

Risk. Anxiety causes some to never take calculated risks because they are fixated on the possibilities of failures. Others foolishly risk too much because they are afraid of missing out or unwilling to fully investigate the wisdom of a church afraid of confronting the truth.

Fear expresses itself in a thousand different ways. The symptoms are varied, but the root cause is the same. Until we begin to recognize fear for what it is, we have little chance of dealing with it.

How Anxious Is Your Marriage?

Many people never consider the presence of anxiety in their marriage. To assist you to consider some elements of fear, I’ve created a quiz you can take here:

Now What?

A ten-question quiz can’t tell us much, but it can help. Most people never consider the role anxiety plays in their relationship. Now you can be aware. As you become aware, realize–relationships either help us cope with our anxieties or they add to them. Becoming aware can empower us to make choices that will weaken the power fear has over us.

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