What’s it like to be in the thick of relationship anxiety?
Not only is the honeymoon over but it’s like you’ve returned from that honeymoon to a landscape you don’t even recognize with a travel companion who looks like a stranger. You find yourself standing on Mars, reaching to touch the face of someone who has morphed into a Martian. You ask yourself the big questions and drive yourself deep into a scary future. You feel scared and alone, alienated from your partner and unique in your challenges.
Just because so few people talk about the moments when they hit the ground on the relationship seesaw doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. So stop comparing. And know you don’t have to suffer. And, you don’t have to be scared. It’s not all going to pot. You are so not far from redemption.
How to free yourself.
So much of anxiety, in relationships and otherwise, rises out of unmet needs. And naturally, when we’re in a relationship we’re prompted to look at the other person to fulfill our needs. We blame. When they don’t or they can’t rise to the occasion, we dig in and get desperate. And the questioning begins.
There’s a fatal error in that reasoning, one that can only lead to the meltdown. When we look outside ourselves for fulfillment, it’s like sitting on a two-legged stool. The foundation is unsteady and we’re bound to fall. We’re also giving away all of our power. Relying on someone else to swoop in, read our minds, and make us feel better is basically acknowledging that we don’t believe we can take care of ourselves, and make ourselves feel peaceful, nourished and happy.
Have you asked for what you need?
Sometimes in our anxious haste, we forget that we never asked our partner for what we need. On some level we expect them to be mind-readers. The only way to free yourself from relationship anxiety is to:
Identify the needs that are not being met.
Offer yourself whatever it is that you need.
Ask your partner for what you need from him.
How to ask for what you need:
Asking for what you need can be fraught. At the moments in your relationship when anxiety is pounding at the door, you’re living in emotional chaos and you might not be on the best of terms with your partner. However, if you do it right, you will experience incredible relief and increased closeness with your partner.
Think about it: Give yourself time to consider exactly what you need. I am sure you never sound like a nag, but if you ever did, the time you take to think about what you truly need and how you want to ask for it will help you be taken more seriously.
Pick your time: Choose your timing carefully. Launching into your laundry list of “needs” in the midst of yet another argument will not have the same impact as calmly asking your partner to talk at a time when emotions aren’t running as high.
Give ‘em the speech: You need to do this in a way that feels natural to you, but here are a few tips on structuring your thoughts. Start by explaining the emotional journey you’ve been on to this point. You’ve given this a lot of thought. You’ve been struggling because of some needs that aren’t being met. You need help meeting these needs. And here they are… Let him know what you see happening if he can’t do his part to help you fulfill these needs. And ask if he’s willing to work on it with you. Keeping the vibe of partnership, “we’re in it together,” shows him that you’re not putting all the burden on him to make you feel better but that he’s an integral player in your happiness as a couple.
Your partner’s willingness to make you feel comfortable and happy may surprise you. But allow it to remind you of all his stellar qualities, his compassion, attentiveness and dedication to your coupledom. Watch that Martian morph right back into the human you love. Unless you have some kind of X-Files fetish. Then go with it.
I want to know if you found this useful. Were you able to ask for what you need? How did it go? What did you learn about yourself and your partner? Did it help you find a bit more peace of mind in your relationship? Leave your feedback in the comments below.
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