Anxiety can be a crippling condition to manage, especially as a parent because you're always "on." If things start to go pear-shaped right at dinner time, it's not like you can walk away and leave your hungry kids screaming, while you try and do some mindfulness meditation. Thank goodness there are plenty of ways every grown-ass man supports a partner with anxiety. Ways that can prevent you from bottling it all in long enough that you end up with heart palpitations in the middle of the night.
I've always been a "worrier," but it wasn't until I had children that my anxiety truly reared its ugly head. It's amazing how creative your mind can be at imagining all the ways your children could potentially die or get hurt. My intrusive thoughts went completely off the rails by the time of my second pregnancy, and I would be paralyzed with anxiety, trying to take my daughter out of the house. Thankfully I had a partner who understands anxiety well, and was able to support me through it. He was the grown-ass man every mom with anxiety needs as a partner. Of course, a partner doesn't have to be a cisgender male in order to be supportive. Gender, to be clear, has absolutely nothing to do with it. However, when your partner is a cisgender male and can't possibly experience what it's like to go through pregnancy, labor, delivery, have a child and suffer from anxiety, it's pivotal that they can and are willing to help. Knowing that you're understood, even when someone can't understand, truly makes a difference.
I can't imagine living with a partner who doesn't understand and support my anxiety. Knowledge is power, folks, so here are 10 ways every grown-ass man supports a partner with anxiety:
A grown-ass man will encourage you to make the choice that's right for you, not what's right for his agenda. Anxiety is complex, and there are many ways to treat it. Going for a run or taking yoga may not be the entire answer, and your partner should recognize and support that.
Sometimes, when I'm trying to cook dinner, my kids think it's the perfect time to use my body as a jungle gym. This is something that sets me off, every single time. Thankfully, I've communicated with my partner so he knows my triggers, and when he sees it happening he either takes the kids outside and away from me, or he takes over cooking.
The other day, my husband had a spur-of-the-moment invitation over to a neighbor's to have a beer and chat. It quickly turned into three beers, and two hours later, I was just raising my voice at my kids, when he walked in and immediately said, "OK, what can I do for you?" It was the best thing I heard all weekend.
Having young children is inherently stressful, but having young children when you have anxiety is like being in a constant, unstable ticking time bomb. You never know what's going to set you off; whether it's your kid asking for the blue cup that no longer exists because it got stepped on (for the fifth time in an hour), or several of your kids waging World War III in your living room. A grown-ass man will take over and give you a much-needed time out.
A grown-ass man understands that you can't control your anxiety. He doesn't belittle your inability to let go of your worry that you didn't turn off the oven, or your need to check and re-check the safety harnesses. He understands that you are not your disease.
I'm going to spin the tables, here, because I didn't really have ongoing anxiety issues until I had kids of my own. My husband, however, did. It took me a long time to figure out what it meant to be a good partner to someone with anxiety (longer than it should have, actually), and that involved learning as much as I could about it.
Sometimes, your partner is the one who triggers your anxiety. It's so important, in cases like these, for your partner to be a grown-ass man understand that it doesn't mean you love them any less.
One of the things that really sets me off is when I'm alone with the kids, and have no concrete knowledge of when my partner is returning. It could be five hours from now, I just need to know so I can set my expectations accordingly.
One thing my partner has continuously done, for a while now, is remind me to get back in the present moment when I get anxious. We have a code phrase we use (because I use it on him, too) and while I sometimes resent it when he says it to me, when I really listen, it works.
It's important that your partner doesn't spend every waking moment trying to sort you out, but also works on himself, too. Being the partner of someone with anxiety can be exhausting at times, so it's important to make sure that everyone is being taken care of.