How Anxiety is Affecting My Marriage

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get ready for a vulnerability post. brene brown if you are reading this, please be proud of me.

about a year and a half ago (how on earth was it that long ago!?) i wrote about my struggles and my war with anxiety. i saw a therapist individually and then my husband agreed to come to a session to talk about his feelings that it was was starting to tear our marriage apart. i still cry when i reread those posts because it makes me sad/angry/anxious that i’m still fighting a war with anxiety and that anxiety is affecting my marriage. i also tear up reading the comments and emails of support because it makes me feel less alone so thanks friends.

how anxiety is affecting my marriage

i understand that many people feel as though ‘time flies’ and ‘wow how is it already 2015?!’ but i feel this on a deeper, sadder level. 2013 and 2014 were total mind blowing years for me. i traveled to more than 115 cities with my husband (including cities in moscow, malaysiathailand, china) and it was incredible and yet very hard to cope with it all.

part of my coping mechanism to help deal with my anxiety, is to disengage with reality. i don’t mean that i frolic off in my mind to some happy, trippy state but rather that i remove my presence of mind from the situation. i play distraction games in my head like “i’m not really sitting on an airplane for 14 hours to china,” or that “it’s all fake and it’s not really my life” so i can get through it. i function like a normal human and if we had a conversation, you probably would think everything is fine…and a good portion of it is because my anxiety isn’t bubbling over.

however, the cost of not having my anxiety bubble over is that i have to step a few layers back from the reality of the overwhelming situation that i’m in. this is what caused me to feel as though 2013 and 2014 literally flew by; it was because i wasn’t “here” for most of it. that makes me sad and embarrassed to admit.

in brene brown’s book “the gift of imperfections,” she writes about that if you block out anxiety or grief or shame, you are inevitably blocking out joy and happiness and acceptance. our brains can’t just numb out the bad feelings and only feel the good…it’s an all or nothing game. it was through reading that last year that i realized this is exactly what is happening in my life.

it was scary to realize this is what is happening but i also felt relief that i better understood why time was passing so quickly. it’s because i haven’t been here to fully experience it.

when i told this to my husband, i could see the sadness in his eyes. he said,

“well, that isn’t good. what can i do to help you because we are living an incredible life together and i don’t want you to miss it.”

then i cried (because that’s just what i do). i told him that i would have to start experiencing my full range of emotions again and that would include feeling my anxiety.

as much as i’d like to think that dealing with having an anxious mind only takes a toll on me but anxiety is affecting my marriage and my husband’s life too.

part of feeling all the feelings is that there have been really amazing days and really tough days. there are days when i feel i have to be sequestered in our room because i just can’t deal or be very kind.

sometimes anxiety makes me say things to my husband which makes him question his own dreams and goals. because they freak the hell out of me (and i say so), it makes him feel like maybe they aren’t attainable. i should never be that person to make him question what he’s doing or what he’s capable of so things need to change.

anxiety sucks up a lot of his time because it requires a lot of “pep talks” and “everything will be okay” talks. i’m working on getting a better handle on this because it does not need to consume both of us. my husband only wants for me to feel happy and at peace with life.

at the same time, i’ve been dealing with this since the beginning of our relationship and it’s exhausting for us both. his support and encouragement is unwavering but he has started to challenge me to try to find new ways to relieve some of the anxiety and better coping mechanisms.

some days these challenges motivative me and i push past it. other days i have to express to him that i need a hug and to just be left alone. it’s tricky, but we are working on it.

i try to remind myself that i’m capable (my friend beki painted this for me as a reminder).

i am capable

on the flip side, through the process of being more present, i am experiencing more joy and contentment in life. my days are starting to feel longer because i’ve actually been aware they are happening. i’m feeling more hopeful that anxiety won’t have the ring-side seat in our lives forever because i’ve got too many better things planned.

i am thankful to have a partner in life that supports me but doesn’t let me off the hook either.

read here for 7 things that i’ve been doing to feel more present and how i’ve been getting better at managing my anxiety without medication.

how anxiety is affecting my marriage


  1. Jennifer Haston

    March 18, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Chelsea, you are not alone. when you are vulnerable like this, you give permission to others to share and “be real”.. I hope that you continue to thrive and experience all the feels.. cause being a robot is no fun at all. I am sending you love and light and support from afar.. but really not, cause I literally a click away. I support you in this and its a good reminder to us all to “feel all the feels” Hugs!

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 10:51 am

      jennifer, i so appreciate your comment and sending love and light-i can feel it 🙂 it’s true that being a robot is no fun, even if it’s easier at times. thanks!

  2. Audrey

    March 18, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Oh man. You’re not alone at all… When I feel my anxiety or emotions getting out of hand I shut everything down and go into a state of nothingness. I’m so afraid to feel things strongly because I’m afraid I can’t control them (or myself). When I was in high school I was diagnosed with the actual medical terms, but it wasn’t until last summer that my parents finally accepted and understood the depression. When I traveled to India time moved so, so fast because I shut everything down to avoid feeling sad or scared or anxious. I fully regret missing out on that trip emotionally. You’re so fortunate to have a partner that recognizes the importance and power of coping mechanisms. My husband tries very hard to understand me, but stress gets the best of both of us sometimes. He’s a really great human. I can’t wait to read your next post on managing your anxiety!
    Audrey recently posted…I’m So Happy!

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 10:54 am

      i totally know that feeling of feeling too strong because you’re afraid of what happens, audrey- thanks for sharing that piece. i think it’s incredibly hard, especially for those closest to us, to understand anxiety/depression especially when they haven’t experienced it.

      totally relate to your india experience and i’m sorry you missed out on being emotionally there but the good news is that you and i get to try to be more present in the here and now 🙂 thanks for your comment!

  3. Lauren @ Oh Hey I Like That!

    March 18, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Chelsea, you are so brave to share this post. I have suffered with awful anxiety for my entire life and it’s been a very difficult thing to share with anyone that I have loved. My first two boyfriends mocked my anxiety and the need to see a therapist–gee, I wonder why I’m not with them anymore 😛 Now I’m with someone who understands my anxiety and helps me through especially tough moments. You and your husband have an amazing bond and I know that together you’ll help each other through these difficult times! I’m here for ya if you need to talk!
    Lauren @ Oh Hey I Like That! recently posted…Wedding Wednesday: “I Think I Wanna Marry You”

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 10:56 am

      so sorry to hear you struggle with anxiety too, lauren. it’s only been in the last few years that i’ve been able to be a little more open with it to my friends and family (and obviously the blog) because it releases, ever so slightly, the hold anxiety has over me.

      so happy you’ve found your husband that is there for you during your difficult times too! appreciate the offer to chat and likewise, lauren 🙂

  4. Victor Gascon

    March 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Dear Chelsea,

    Thank you for sharing these difficult thoughts and emotions. Indeed, you are brave to open your heart like this to the world. But your heart is in good hands. Those of us that have met you, even briefly, know how beautiful your soul is. You and Ryan are fortunate to have each other. And, certainly, you will not only get through it all, one day at a time, sometimes minute by minute, but you will find ways to enjoy those minutes and those days. Sending positive vibes your way!

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 10:58 am

      victor, thanks so much for taking the time to read and then share your comment. it’s felt and appreciated. i do feel incredibly thankful to have ryan by my side and you’re right…all we can do is get by minute by minute at times and there really are joys within that time too 🙂

  5. Dawn Dunsmore

    March 18, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I recently found an app called the 5 minute journal. It is a great tool for thinking about the good moments of a day. It costs about $5, but helps me remember what I’m grateful for, what would make my day (or did make my day) great, and the personal affirmation I am working with. I find I rememb the days I make notes like these as
    Good days

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 11:00 am

      thanks so much for the recommendation, dawn! i will definitely be checking that out because it sounds like it’s been so helpful to you. it does help to see a clear picture of just how great we have it-thank you!
      chelsea recently posted…How Anxiety is Affecting My Marriage

  6. Ken Batty

    March 18, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Chelsea. You continue to blow me away with you honesty and self disclosure. You truly are an inspiration to others who battle on a daily basis with all kinds of debilitating conditions both temporary and chronic. I look forward to your weekly posts and always find some nugget that helps me to take pause to think about my own struggles, which pale compared to you. It is through your vulnerability that you you a catylist to others. I wish you well and am so thankful that you and Ryan are able to share your life and despite your own inner struggles and manage to continue the mission of sharing enthusiasm for life with others. Sharing your stories will continue to make you stronger as well offering encouragement to others to do the same. You truly are supported to be the best Chelsea.

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 11:04 am

      ken, i really appreciate you taking the time to comment and share you thoughts. i am glad to hear that you’re able to find nuggets that help you pause and reflect – i will hold that with me and not take it lightly (i better pay attention to what nuggets i’m putting out there 🙂 )

      while i do feel slightly terrified and nervous putting myself out there like this, you’re right that i also feel slightly stronger because i’m hoping that if one person realizes he/she isn’t alone, that will be worth it. thank you for your support and encouragement ken.

  7. Nina

    March 18, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Your vulnerability is beautiful, and much needed by fellow anxious people like me. I’ve been struggling a lot with anxiety right now, and I’m trying to keep it at bay because I don’t want to let it bubble over and blow up. I’m worried about my anxiety affecting my relationship (is it normal to be anxious about getting married in the near future?), so I can’t wait to read your next post on the actions you take!
    Nina recently posted…Reverse Blog Post: I Want to Get to Know YOU

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 11:07 am

      i’m sorry you’re struggling with anxiety right now, nina. it’s such a hard battle to be a part of but know you aren’t alone! for us anxious people…i’d say it’s totally normal to be anxious about the idea of getting married in the near future FOR SURE! i mean…picking out breakfast gives me anxiety so committing for life…yeah.

      what i’ve found in my relationship is that the more i’m open and honest first with myself and then my partner, the less i blow up or bubble over. it’s not always pretty but if you can figure out ways to talk about your anxiety and shares ways your partner can support you through it, it makes it more manageable. thanks for your comment and keeping you in my thoughts!

  8. Emma Lincoln

    March 18, 2015 at 11:22 am

    There’s literally nothing I can say that you haven’t said a million times better. Thank you for writing this beautiful post – it’s exactly what I needed to read this morning 🙂

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      thanks emma 🙂 i’m glad it could help with your day and the next blog post is heavily focused on all the things we talked about during our coffee date!

  9. The Southern Thing

    March 18, 2015 at 11:44 am

    So sorry to hear you struggle with this. I experienced anxiety for the first time when I got to grad school, and it’s a nasty thing. I view medicine as the absolute last resort, so I made it my goal to search for a natural alternative. I’ve been using essential oils to reduce stress and anxiety and give me a calming, happy feeling. I highly recommend looking into this alternative! There are SO many different oils to combat this, including a “Xanax” alternative. To put it shortly, I don’t leave the house without my oils. I’d be more than happy to point you in the direction of which specific oils are known to work best for anxiety, just let me know!
    The Southern Thing recently posted…St. Patty’s Celebration, Dallas Style

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      whew, grad school will certainly do that to you, won’t it?! i’m in the process of learning more about essential oils so i’d definitely love any information you have-thanks so much!

  10. Kayla

    March 18, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I really, truly appreciate your posts on anxiety (I seriously binge-read a good part of your blog when I found it). They make me feel like I’m not alone either and I haven’t come across a lot of bloggers that are so honest and real about the ups and downs of life/marriage/etc and how their anxiety has affected those things. So thank you from a fellow anxious woman!
    Kayla recently posted…Catch up.

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      it’s amazing how helpful it can be just to know we aren’t the only ones with certain thoughts or feelings, isn’t it kayla! i appreciate you reading kayla and for your comment-i hope your anxiety is behaving today 🙂

  11. Elizabeth T

    March 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Can I just say that I love when you open your heart to us–this post is so beautiful in all its vulnerability. Thank you for writing this and hitting the publish button.
    Elizabeth T recently posted…Drunken Bread Pudding

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      thanks so much for saying that elizabeth because i definitely hovered over that ‘publish’ button a lot longer on this post than most!

  12. Vivien

    March 18, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    chelsea, thank you for always being so brave and vulnerable to share not only these parts of your life, but updating us on how you are doing as well. Not only are you so down to earth and awesome, you are inspiring too!
    Vivien recently posted…Letting Go, The Only Way

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      awww vivien – thanks for your kind words, they really do mean a lot! i’m glad you feel that i can be inspiring (that motivational husband must be rubbing off on me) ha! thanks for reading and commenting!

  13. Melissa C

    March 18, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    HUGS friend!! I know this struggle oh too well. You probably remember me saying my husband suffers from depression, bi polar, and anxiety so for us the roles are reversed from you and your husband. I really admire you sharing this with everyone. I’m glad you can see that you were falling back and missing things, and I’m glad that you say something because the easiest thing to do is just go with the flow and ignore everything. LOVE YOU! you’re awesome!
    Melissa C recently posted…Favorites, Bourbon, Lipstick & Llamas

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      whew you and my husband should chat, melissa! ha! i’m sure i don’t have to tell you how vital your love and support is as your husband deals with those issues so from us people- THANK YOU 🙂 it was a lot easier to go with the flow but i finally started realizing that is no way to live life. thanks so much for your support and love melissa!

  14. Paula Howley

    March 18, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Keep plugging away Chelsea. It gets better bit by bit. and sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back but it’s the journey, right? Remember- you know this- courage isn’t the absence of fear (or anxiety) it’s finding a way to live and love despite it.
    Also remember that you are married to this kind of freak of nature ok? Challenging!!! AND that you are so blessed that he is aware and cares and does the actions to help you be more CHELSEA.
    A few months back (and every few years or so) I was questioning everything including if I was really alive and what the hell it all meant anyway. I didn’t want to get out of bed some days. It comes and goes. I’ve never spoken to a professional about any of it because I figure it’s just my philosophical nature but maybe a pro could help me figure things out a bit. I don’t know.
    Life is crazy. a big blotch of paint on canvas trying to convey SOMETHING. thanks for using your brush to let people know that THEY ARE NOT ALONE. That, truly, is the most important thing of all. You are awesome lady.
    Paula Howley recently posted…Head Start Public Speaking For Kids- Persuasion! Week 20 (and Paula’s parents stop by!)

    • chelsea

      March 18, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      you are so right that courage isn’t the absence of fear but finding a way to live with it! now to just continue working on that piece. haha i do feel so grateful that even though ravery hasn’t experienced much anxiety or depression, he does take the time to try and understand me and of course support me!

      talking with a professional has definitely helped me BIG time in the past. it’s a pretty spectacular feeling to have someone to talk with without judgement and to help process things (and we know i love a good process session). love your paint analogy too-thanks for your support, paula…you’ve been with it from the get go and i appreciate it!

  15. Lindsay

    March 18, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    This post is brave and strong and beautiful – just like you. I know unfortunately little about anxiety but if there is ever anything I can do (stupid jokes, sarcastic commentary, inappropriate memes, etc, you name it) I’m only a tweet away! Your story is inspiring, thank you for sharing it.

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:18 am

      thanks lindsay for your kindess with your comment and offering of sarcastic commentary because you know how i love those! likewise for you and thanks 🙂

  16. Lindsay @ The Newlywed Notebook

    March 18, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Oh my gosh this post hit way too close to home for me. I can COMPLETELY relate to the “life flying by” thing. Not like how some people say it in a good way, but because I feel like I’m blocking it all out…well that was probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever written. 🙂 But seriously, you are so brave to be so vulnerable and share your struggles. It’s so nice when you can know you aren’t the only one feeling a certain way. xo
    Lindsay @ The Newlywed Notebook recently posted…Our DIY To-Do List | What’s On Yours?

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:20 am

      ugh it’s totally sad and hard to realize that life is flying by, isn’t it lindsay?? know you aren’t alone either but that we can hopefully start changing that because our lives are too good to block it all out. thanks for your comment.

  17. Jennifer

    March 18, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Chelsea, I don’t know if you remember me, but we met when Avery (or Ryan) was an RA in Durward. I read your posts from time to time, and I have to tell you that this one hit particularly close for me. I’m not married, but my boyfriend and I live together. While I’ve always been more on the anxious side, it’s definitely increased since my mom died 9 months ago (…today). It’s easier to not be present in my world, because facing the reality that my mom isn’t here on this earth, where I can see, hear, and touch her… where I can be mad at her, call her for advice, get homemade soup when I’m sick of cooking for myself… sucks. It’s taken 9 months for me to say that my mom dying sucks. And all of this not facing my reality, and trying to avoid the anxiety, means I’m not present with my boyfriend (or anyone/where else, for that matter). And for him, someone who is always positive about everything and seems to handle setbacks without any issue and is always ready to move forward, sometimes it feels like we’re miles apart… from each other, from what we want, from where we’ve come. I got medication right after my mom died, but haven’t taken it in sometime and struggle to try to find ways to ground myself and be present. It’s helpful knowing I’m not the only one to struggle with this, and I look forward to reading your next post.

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:25 am

      hi jennifer, i am so very very sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. i cannot even fathom all of the emotions that you must go through on a daily basis or just how intense anxiety must get. i appreciate you sharing your thoughts and feelings so candidly and you reminded me that i need to call my parents more because i can and that should not be taken for granted.

      i can relate to being in a relationship with someone super positive and always handles those setbacks with seemingly perfect ease so i bet it’s especially difficult during this time for you both. i would definitely recommend talking to a therapist who can hopefully help you start feeling more present in your life and how to manage all of the very-appropriate but overwhelming emotions you are feeling. so sorry to hear this but do know you aren’t alone and i’ll be keeping you in my thoughts jennifer!

  18. Marc Gabris

    March 18, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Heartfelt and real post.

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:20 am

      thank you marc. hope you are doing well!

  19. Mindy

    March 18, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Chelsea, I am so incredibly proud to be able to call you my daughter. You have grown into such a wise woman who is helping us all learn and become stronger. Love you!

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:31 am

      yay it’s my mama! i so appreciate your continued and unwavering support through this process and life mom, love you xo

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  21. Annette

    March 19, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Hey Girl…You sure do keep it real…my take is this (and just my opinion) A beautiful Introvert and beautiful Extrovert have come together…The Extroverts dream may not be the Introvert’s dream…And that’s okay…The Extrovert should be able to have their dream without taking the Introvert along for the entire drive..It’s okay…Short drives here and there are ok but the long drives need to be done alone…and that’s okay…(drives being the metaphor for busy n travelling stuff) if I am off the mark, I apologize…It’s my take on what I’m hearing and seeing…Hugs!!!

    • chelsea

      March 23, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      thanks for your comment annette! i like your metaphor with the extroverts and the introverts. i’m all about those short drives for sure! i just need to be careful not to squash dreams because they seem unrealistic or too hard or scary!

  22. Devra Pomeroy

    March 19, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Anxiety sucks… and I know it can definitely bring out the worst in me. And my worst is a short temper; sometimes I really don’t know how my husband puts up with me. But he’s so strong and faithful to love me through it, as I am sure yours is!
    Will really demonstrates the love of God and this verse that I thought might comfort you some, I know it comforts us in anxious times.
    “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7 (the Message)
    Devra Pomeroy recently posted…One Month in our New Home

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:33 am

      ohhh anxiety totally manifests as short-temper for me too, devra and it’s not pretty. i always feel so guilty and bad after i blow up and as we both know, it’s not fair to them but we are sure thankful they are patient. thanks for sharing that quote 🙂

  23. Karen

    March 19, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Chelsea, thanks for sharing this post with us! it was a brave thing to do 🙂
    I’m a new reader, but I’m already so proud of you for recognize how anxiety is limiting you and working to manage it! I love that you and your husband are taking a team approach to conquer it. sending virtual support! 🙂
    Karen recently posted…Cincinnati Heart Mini 15k

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:33 am

      i appreciate you reading and for your comment, karen 🙂 thanks for your virtual support, it’s felt!

  24. Melissa @ Mel's Miles

    March 19, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I love this post because I’m extremely anxious as well. My boyfriend has seen the worst of it as I approach the end of my grad school career. Our relationship is definitely negatively affected by my anxiety. I can’t wait to hear about your strategies for dealing with anxiety. What I’ve been doing is lots of yoga and guided meditation videos 🙂
    Melissa @ Mel’s Miles recently posted…Gratitude Friday: Marching Forward Edition

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 7:35 am

      sorry to hear that you’re super anxious too, melissa. it’s no fun and grad school is a stressful time that really set me off too so take care of yourself! new post is up about how i’ve been coping with anxiety and meditation is definitely on the list! what videos do you use?? that sounds interesting!

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  26. Rebecca

    March 23, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Thank you for sharing your heart like this Chelsea. I too struggle with anxiety and have since high school. Most recently my anxiety has turned to depression and it has been hard on my marriage. How can you tell someone that you love being with them and they make you happy when you’re unhappy for no reason? It’s something that I’m working on daily because I know it’s not just me who is struggling now, but both of us.
    Rebecca recently posted…Memories To Hold On To

    • chelsea

      March 23, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      thanks for reading and for your comment, rebecca. my anxiety really amped up in high school too along with depression (why do they often have to be besties…jeeez).

      i absolutely understand what you mean about trying to get your husband or even family to understand that there isn’t anything they can do to cheer you up nor does it have any reflection on them. it’s hard. i’m glad you’re working on rebecca, that’s all we can do is to keep moving forward 🙂
      chelsea recently posted…Meghan Trainor’s New Video is NOT Actually a Win for Women or Marriage

  27. Julianne

    March 24, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I am in awe of you for being so free and open with your struggles. I too suffer from severe anxiety and I often shut down when I most need help.
    I wrote this on another post of yours, but I’ll say it again–you might want to check out the website, or the highly sensitive person. It’s filled with resources for when life overwhelms you, including how to work with relationships. Learning that I am a highly sensitive person was life changing for me, and I guarantee that anxiety sufferers will feel right at home.

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