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Can Marriage be a Source of Anxiety?


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It recently dawned on me that Marriage could be a source of anxiety for me... I work from home and my spouse started working from home as well few years ago. I was use to a certain degree of solitude while I was working. My spouse is VERY efficient and often finishes work early... sometimes before noon. After work, she is left with nothing to do, and gets cabin fever. Most days I feel stressed because I know if I don't rush to finish my work fast, she will feel bored and lonely with nothing to do (I've tried to suggest hobbies, but it didn't work). I have fallen behind in work on numerous occasions because of this... I've always had Anxiety and Panic Attacks, but I think I've had more since being married. When I've tried bringing it up, she just gets all hurt and offended... Don't get me wrong, I love her dearly, but she just doesn't understand what I'm going through...

 

Anyone else experience Anxiety because of their Marriage???

 

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Hi cvlt.

I am not currently married but experience anxiety and panic attacks in my relationships with those close to me. 

I read somewhere that both depression and anxiety are linked to thoughts or feelings of being trapped in some way.  My memory is not so good but as I recall, depression is linked to feeling trapped in the present while anxiety is linked to imagining being trapped in the future.  Supposedly anxiety requires imagination.  

Relationships can be stressful I guess because there are so many opportunities for feeling trapped in them . . . so many kinds of being trapped.  I think being trapped is being in situations where one is caught between opposites where doing one thing will result in unwelcome and undesirable consequences and doing the opposite will also result in unwelcome and undesirable consequences.  What do you think?  Sometimes a solution can be found in some third possibility.

Another kind of trap is psychological.  One is trapped by expectations: one's own and those of others close to oneself.  Expectations are stressful because there is a demandingness in them that is missing in mere wishing.  If I wish that all the motorists on the highway are nice and polite, that is very different than expecting it.  Greater disappointment results from an expectation that isn't met than a mere wish that isn't met.  It would be nice if X,  is softer than "I expect [demand] x."  There seems to be a hidden "or else" behind expectations:  You must do this, or else.  I must do this, or else.  An unrealized expectation tends to lead to frustration, aggravation, disappointment, anger, sadness and sometimes hopelessness if one projects out from the present into the future as in:  this expectation will never be met. [being trapped]

There also seems to be a sense of life or death urgency involved in stress, whether from relationships or otherwise.  Sometimes things are given a sense of life or death importance and urgency when they do not really rise to the level of life or death urgency and importance.  I know I have seen and experienced situations where a sense of life or death urgency and importance was given to obtaining the best parking spot at a Mall or getting the shortest line in a supermarket checkout counter.

There is a very enlightening 2:47 second YouTube video on the sources of internal stress by a renowned expert on stress related illnesses including depression and anxiety.  I think it is worth the 2:47 seconds it takes to watch it.  It is called "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers."  

But knowing the mechanics of stress in relationships is quite different than solving them.  I must confess to being a mere novice when it comes to solving relationship stresses and I am 63 years old. Generally I use CBT techniques to help myself.   Hopefully others here will have real, practical and down to earth advice.  All I can say is that I can feel your pain and that my heart goes out to you!!! - epictetus

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2 hours ago, Epictetus said:

Hi cvlt.

I am not currently married but experience anxiety and panic attacks in my relationships with those close to me. 

I read somewhere that both depression and anxiety are linked to thoughts or feelings of being trapped in some way.  My memory is not so good but as I recall, depression is linked to feeling trapped in the present while anxiety is linked to imagining being trapped in the future.  Supposedly anxiety requires imagination.  

Relationships can be stressful I guess because there are so many opportunities for feeling trapped in them . . . so many kinds of being trapped.  I think being trapped is being in situations where one is caught between opposites where doing one thing will result in unwelcome and undesirable consequences and doing the opposite will also result in unwelcome and undesirable consequences.  What do you think?  Sometimes a solution can be found in some third possibility.

Another kind of trap is psychological.  One is trapped by expectations: one's own and those of others close to oneself.  Expectations are stressful because there is a demandingness in them that is missing in mere wishing.  If I wish that all the motorists on the highway are nice and polite, that is very different than expecting it.  Greater disappointment results from an expectation that isn't met than a mere wish that isn't met.  It would be nice if X,  is softer than "I expect [demand] x."  There seems to be a hidden "or else" behind expectations:  You must do this, or else.  I must do this, or else.  An unrealized expectation tends to lead to frustration, aggravation, disappointment, anger, sadness and sometimes hopelessness if one projects out from the present into the future as in:  this expectation will never be met. [being trapped]

There also seems to be a sense of life or death urgency involved in stress, whether from relationships or otherwise.  Sometimes things are given a sense of life or death importance and urgency when they do not really rise to the level of life or death urgency and importance.  I know I have seen and experienced situations where a sense of life or death urgency and importance was given to obtaining the best parking spot at a Mall or getting the shortest line in a supermarket checkout counter.

There is a very enlightening 2:47 second YouTube video on the sources of internal stress by a renowned expert on stress related illnesses including depression and anxiety.  I think it is worth the 2:47 seconds it takes to watch it.  It is called "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers."  

But knowing the mechanics of stress in relationships is quite different than solving them.  I must confess to being a mere novice when it comes to solving relationship stresses and I am 63 years old. Generally I use CBT techniques to help myself.   Hopefully others here will have real, practical and down to earth advice.  All I can say is that I can feel your pain and that my heart goes out to you!!! - epictetus

Hello Epictetus,

 

That was very well said! It's kind of funny... But if Anxiety requires imagination, then I'm doomed because I have no shortage of that!

But yeah... Feeling trapped might be part of it... You have the desire to make the other person happy, and really stress over the idea of letting them down. Sometimes you feel that no matter what you do, you're going to let them down... Damned if you do, and Damned if you don't. A third possibility might be to just ask the other person to work with you on a solution if they're open to it?

And I completely understand what you mean by expectations... Your example of expecting polite drivers really hits home... I also stress over things like being in the shortest line... thought it was only me! We place so much importance on small things like that, but it's hard to get out of the habit. I will certainly watch the youtube video you suggested. Thank you, every little bit helps!

Edited by cvlt
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3 hours ago, cvlt said:
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It recently dawned on me that Marriage could be a source of anxiety for me... I work from home and my spouse started working from home as well few years ago. I was use to a certain degree of solitude while I was working. My spouse is VERY efficient and often finishes work early... sometimes before noon. After work, she is left with nothing to do, and gets cabin fever. Most days I feel stressed because I know if I don't rush to finish my work fast, she will feel bored and lonely with nothing to do (I've tried to suggest hobbies, but it didn't work). I have fallen behind in work on numerous occasions because of this... I've always had Anxiety and Panic Attacks, but I think I've had more since being married. When I've tried bringing it up, she just gets all hurt and offended... Don't get me wrong, I love her dearly, but she just doesn't understand what I'm going through...

 

Anyone else experience Anxiety because of their Marriage???

 

sounds like youre a great husband. lets break down what you said:

Quote

if I don't rush to finish my work fast, she will feel bored 

notice the order of things: If you dont perform an action... someone else will be affected. This is where the stress comes from, and believe you me, we've all felt this at least once in life. marriage is a learning lesson. you learn as you go. but its important to remember that your wife is a grown woman. youre not there to be sure she is content 100% of the time. she must know of your anxiety, right?

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@AF2018 

I care about my spouse a great deal and often feel horrible if she is disappointed. I know that some of this stems from the fact that she moved from another country and left all her friends and family just to be with me... I feel hugely responsible for her well-being since she made such a sacrifice. At the same time, you are right... she is a grown woman. While she is very aware of my anxiety & depression, she doesn't really understand it. But sometimes I am so down in the dumps, I just don't have the energy to keep her happy, and for this I feel an enormous sense of guilt.

Thank you for your comments... they've really made me think...

Edited by cvlt
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Hey friend, Thanks for sharing here! I have been married for 15 years and I have worked with my wife many times in the past. One thing that has been key to have a healthy relationship is understanding that, even when you are a unity in marriage, you are also responsible of yourself. May I ask, why do you feel responsible of keeping your wife "entertained" after work? She is an adult and I am pretty sure that she is more than capable of finding friends to hang out with or something to do while you finish your work, for which you are really responsible! you don't have to be rude to make this clear, just set the proper boundaries and have clear communication. Do you think that you might need the support of a close friend or even a counselor to have this conversation and provide you with support? I understand that she has moved to another country following you. I understand that because my wife did the same for me, but she keeps herself busy and happy while I am working. Don't feel guilty about this! Find things to spend quality time with her when you are not working and set the expectation about the rest of the time. Every one is responsible of oneself! Keep moving forward!

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Okay, it's hard to judge without more information. If you are working for many hours after she is done, and she gets bored and lonely, she might start to feel you are neglecting her, and friends and hobbies won't be able to fill the "husband" void, if you are leaving her alone a lot. She might want more romantic time with you, and if you are not around much, she might feel that the honeymoon is over, so to speak. On the other hand, if she gets upset about spending an hour or two away from you each day, and she wants to cling to you every second, then she may have some issues to deal with, lol! So, could we have more information?

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I think we both feel stuck in our marriage because of my depression.  He’s feels more like my father figure now.  It’s always his way, his likes. If he doesn’t want to do something we usually don’t or he’ll drag his feet getting there. We both work full time but he pays the bills and handles the finances.  I “gave over the reigns” because of my illness.  I do most of the cooking, in-house cleaning, laundry and help with lawn work when I can.  The only time we’re intimate is if he’s ready.  It feels to me like a marriage of convenience and obligation for him.

Could it be that he’s waiting for me to leave him so he doesn’t feel guilty?  I felt this sometimes even when my emotions were level, or at least I thought they were.

A bit of background info...

The first two times I went off the deep end I know why. The first was letting myself be overworked by a company to the point of a breakdown. The second was trying a stop smoking pill (I wasn’t on depression or anxiety meds anymore). When I came off them, about two days later, off the deep end again. Both included crying, anxious, paranoid of even loved ones and that people were watching and recording me (and us).  Since then doc has had me on antidepressants since, said I would need them for the rest of my life. I’ve taken them since then.  That was about 4 years ago.

This time I cannot name a trigger. The anxiety started first, then the crying, no paranoia this time.  Doc doubled my antidepressant and added an anxiety med as needed.  That was 5 days ago..

I’m nearly 50, he’s in his 50s and this both of our second marriages. Our kids are grown.

 

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I don't understand why your wife would expect you to entertain or provide companionship during your work hours. It doesn't matter that she finished her work. If you're still working then it's your responsibility as an employee and adult to finish your work. There have been times in the past when my husband worked from home and it never, ever occurred to me that he should stop working, fail to meet deadlines/expectations and hang out with me instead. I think your wife needs to read up on dependency issues and see how she can address her neediness with friends/hobbies/educational interests.

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On 4/21/2018 at 4:37 PM, Aiutalemani said:

Hey friend, Thanks for sharing here! I have been married for 15 years and I have worked with my wife many times in the past. One thing that has been key to have a healthy relationship is understanding that, even when you are a unity in marriage, you are also responsible of yourself. May I ask, why do you feel responsible of keeping your wife "entertained" after work? She is an adult and I am pretty sure that she is more than capable of finding friends to hang out with or something to do while you finish your work, for which you are really responsible! you don't have to be rude to make this clear, just set the proper boundaries and have clear communication. Do you think that you might need the support of a close friend or even a counselor to have this conversation and provide you with support? I understand that she has moved to another country following you. I understand that because my wife did the same for me, but she keeps herself busy and happy while I am working. Don't feel guilty about this! Find things to spend quality time with her when you are not working and set the expectation about the rest of the time. Every one is responsible of oneself! Keep moving forward!

It sounds like you understand my position! I suppose I feel responsible to keep her company after she finishes work because all the sacrifices that she made for me... Unfortunately, she gets bored very easily and doesn't have any hobbies despite my encouragement to find one... When she gets bored, she gets in a really rotten, argumentative mood, and I don't like to argue. Part of these problems are cultural... Where she is from, women are not encouraged to have hobbies or a life outside of their family... They are groomed from day one to cook, clean and be good house wives... Women don't often go out alone where she's from... They are also not encouraged to drive, so although she does have friends, she's terrified to drive out to visit them. All of this is SO different than how I think... I have encouraged her to grow and become her own person, but she's very set in her ways. It may surprise you to hear that we spend almost all of our time together, so there isn't much of a reason for her to feel left out. On top of all of this, she will not go to a counselor because she doesn't like other people knowing her personal business.

You are lucky in the sense that your wife has adapted to life here and is able to find things to stay busy that she enjoys... 

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On 4/21/2018 at 5:49 PM, BlueStarr said:

Okay, it's hard to judge without more information. If you are working for many hours after she is done, and she gets bored and lonely, she might start to feel you are neglecting her, and friends and hobbies won't be able to fill the "husband" void, if you are leaving her alone a lot. She might want more romantic time with you, and if you are not around much, she might feel that the honeymoon is over, so to speak. On the other hand, if she gets upset about spending an hour or two away from you each day, and she wants to cling to you every second, then she may have some issues to deal with, lol! So, could we have more information?

Actually, not spending enough time together isn't the problem... We are around each other pretty much 24/7 and we both work from home. I take her out during the week to a movie, and we usually do something outside the house at least one day during the weekend. We go on vacation a few times a year too... I can't figure it out... most days I'm so distracted that I don't even get to put in 8 hours at work. Not sure what to do... I guess she's just needy?

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Oops. If you saw my last response, cancel it because I hadn't read your other reply where you mention your serious cultural differences. This changes the whole picture, so I am changing my answer. You say she is from another culture, (I am assuming the Middle East or East Asia), and it is hard for you to understand her and it's hard for her to understand you, or your expectations of each other. There is no magic solution for this because she has been plonked down into a culture she is not familiar with, and you are right that she thinks totally different than women do in the USA or Canada, or wherever you live. (I am assuming you live in a Western country.) I think that you need to stop expecting her to think like a "Westerner" and accept that she is never going to suddenly think the way you want her to. Somehow the two of you are going to have to understand each other's culture(s) better and find some sort of compromise. Otherwise, both of you will destroy the marriage by expecting each other to conform to each other's cultures. It simply can't work without a middle ground.

Edited by BlueStarr
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/21/2018 at 7:18 PM, Nae568 said:

I think we both feel stuck in our marriage because of my depression.  He’s feels more like my father figure now.  It’s always his way, his likes. If he doesn’t want to do something we usually don’t or he’ll drag his feet getting there. We both work full time but he pays the bills and handles the finances.  I “gave over the reigns” because of my illness.  I do most of the cooking, in-house cleaning, laundry and help with lawn work when I can.  The only time we’re intimate is if he’s ready.  It feels to me like a marriage of convenience and obligation for him.

Could it be that he’s waiting for me to leave him so he doesn’t feel guilty?  I felt this sometimes even when my emotions were level, or at least I thought they were.

A bit of background info...

The first two times I went off the deep end I know why. The first was letting myself be overworked by a company to the point of a breakdown. The second was trying a stop smoking pill (I wasn’t on depression or anxiety meds anymore). When I came off them, about two days later, off the deep end again. Both included crying, anxious, paranoid of even loved ones and that people were watching and recording me (and us).  Since then doc has had me on antidepressants since, said I would need them for the rest of my life. I’ve taken them since then.  That was about 4 years ago.

This time I cannot name a trigger. The anxiety started first, then the crying, no paranoia this time.  Doc doubled my antidepressant and added an anxiety med as needed.  That was 5 days ago..

I’m nearly 50, he’s in his 50s and this both of our second marriages. Our kids are grown.

 

Hello Nae568,

I can relate what you're going through... I had a few nervous breakdowns when I was younger... before I ever met my wife... However, she was aware of my anxiety and depression before marriage and thought of it as only a temporary or situational thing. I told her that it was permanent, but she didn't take that as a serious problem. It's caused major issues between us because she thinks it's not as bad as I say it is and that I'm not trying. It's an on-going battle...

It sounds like your problems started 'after' you were married... Perhaps the heavy burden of your job burnt you out? Since you may not have always been depressed, maybe your husband thinks that you're not the same person he married? If he is comfortable talking about these issues with you, it might be a good idea to try talking with him... Let him know what you're going through and that you need his support to get through it. If he really cares about you, he will man-up and be there for you.

 

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On 4/23/2018 at 9:37 PM, BlueStarr said:

Oops. If you saw my last response, cancel it because I hadn't read your other reply where you mention your serious cultural differences. This changes the whole picture, so I am changing my answer. You say she is from another culture, (I am assuming the Middle East or East Asia), and it is hard for you to understand her and it's hard for her to understand you, or your expectations of each other. There is no magic solution for this because she has been plonked down into a culture she is not familiar with, and you are right that she thinks totally different than women do in the USA or Canada, or wherever you live. (I am assuming you live in a Western country.) I think that you need to stop expecting her to think like a "Westerner" and accept that she is never going to suddenly think the way you want her to. Somehow the two of you are going to have to understand each other's culture(s) better and find some sort of compromise. Otherwise, both of you will destroy the marriage by expecting each other to conform to each other's cultures. It simply can't work without a middle ground.

Hello BlueStarr,

Your assumption is correct... I'm from a western country and she's South Asian. Her culture is a lot more conservative... However, I have a very hard time with how women are treated over there and I can't respect the abusive attitudes. As a human, I just feel it's inhumane...

We both make compromises, but at times I make compromises I probably shouldn't have to... I wanted to change 'my' hairstyle recently, but she simply told me, "Do what you want, but I will find you ugly if you do so." Hearing this was VERY hard for me because I support her in what ever she wants to do in life... If she wants to change her entire wardrobe to fit in more here, I tell her to do it, but be proud of where you're from... If she wants to get a new hairstyle, I say yes... When she wants to loose weight I support her even thought I prefer plus-size women (I even go on diets with her). 

Most of the time, I feel like I can't be 'myself' because she won't like me or be attracted to me if I am... This adds to my depression and anxiety because I constantly worry if I'm going to do something to offend her. I use to have a strong sense of self, but I've lost that and any pride in myself I used to have. It hurts not being "me"...

 

In any case, I appreciate your comments and thanks for listening.

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Sorry to hear it is so difficult. It's hard to communicate in the same way that you would to a Western woman with similar cultural values as yourself. I think it is important not to try and change her to be Western. She will not be able to suddenly turn into a liberated Western woman overnight. Have you talked to her about what you told us here, in a nice, non-angry sort of way, about what you're attracted to and how you prefer plus size, etc.? If she knows you like plus size, why does she want to make herself look less attractive to you? I don't understand that part, unless she is losing weight for her health. (If she is really unhealthy obese, then you should want her to lose some weight, but I am assuming she just wants to look like a model.) Also, if she wouldn't find you attractive if you change your hair, why do it? I think married couples should try to please each other to keep the romance alive, (within reason). If it's something neither of you can help, then neither of you should complain, but changing your hair (or her losing weight) is something you could refrain from doing. Marriage is about communication, and it also means making some compromises, and wanting to be attractive to each other. If you both can't do that, then I am afraid it won't work in the long run. You say that you make compromises, but then you added that you probably shouldn't have to. Is there some resentment for having to compromise? Does she resent making compromises too? I think married couples need be willing to make compromises and not see it as a bad thing. However, if the two of you have to compromise so much that neither one of you can be yourselves, then do you think there is any way to make that work? I think that if the compromises are so great that neither of you can feel relaxed enough to be natural, and you're always worried that she won't love the real 'you' then that is a serious problem. I don't think either one of you should change *that much* to please each other, so please don't misunderstand what I said earlier about couples wanting to please each other. I think up to a point they should, but not to the point of not being able to be themselves anymore. I think a lot of honest, open communication is important here. How did you two communicate before you got married? 

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