So many times here, I read about how much trouble spouses and partners have understanding anxiety. They get impatient, want to help but don't know how, and many give up. Not because they don't care, but because they don't understand. When you love someone, and they're hurting, when you can't help them to get better it hurts. It eats at you and you become frustrated, saddened and at a loss about what you can do.
So here are some tips. If anyone has anything to add, please do so!
1. Therapy. If you are seeing a therapist, bring your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend along. Let them see you getting help. Let them hear you talking to someone outside of them about how you fee. Let them listen as your therapist works with you, gives you tips and counsels you on how to improve. Therapists will often offer your partner advice too, on how to help you deal with your anxiety.
2. Support groups. Bring your partner to an anxiety support group for the reasons listed above. If they hear about your struggle and how others like you struggle, it may bring some understanding.
3. Books. Buy books on anxiety, borrow books from the library and ask your partner to read them, or to read them with you so they can be informed. Ask them how they feel about what they've read and how you can incorporate that into your relationship.
4. This is a hard one, but it's very important. Partners often feel when dealing with someone with anxiety, like they are being neglected. Anxiety causes us to be selfish and self absorbed at times, and we forget that there are two people in the relationship. It becomes all about us. Take one day a week and set it aside for your partner. Take them on a date. If you're agoraphobic, ask them to walk with you, even a short ways, to help you get some exposure. If you aren't ready for that, have a game or movie night at home. Make this night all about them and no matter how you feel, no matter how anxious you are and how hard it is, don't mention your anxiety.
Lastly, love them. Hug them. Thank them for being there and supporting you, even when they don't understand. Acknowledge to them that you understand how hard things have been for them, even though you are the one with anxiety. Be honest about how guilty it makes you feel when they are struggling, when they're impatient with you, but let them know you understand. Understanding is what we ourselves want, right? So, isn't it fair that you understand them too? It is hard for them to see you like this. The person they love above anyone else in the world is suffering. Wouldn't you be hurting too, if it was them?
Be patient. Living with an anxiety sufferer isn't easy, it's painful, frustrating and often excruciating. Your partner doesn't mean to be ignorant, they don't intend to be short with you and/or make you feel bad. They are hurting. But by following some of these guidelines, it can be easier for both of you.