Keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself when you are struggling with mental health issues can be exhausting for both you and your spouse. While it may feel easier to hide your feelings, talking to your spouse about your mental health is crucial for your marriage to succeed.
Common symptoms of mental health disorders include withdrawal from loved ones, excessive fears or guilt, inability to concentrate, constant fatigue, and severe depression. Without knowing that you are dealing with a mental illness, your husband may think you are unhappy in your relationship or pushing him away because you no longer love them. You need to confide in your spouse about what you are feeling. This way, he’ll be able to help and support you, or at least understand that it’s not about him.
Here are 7 tips for mental health communication in relationships and how marriage therapy can help you get closer to your spouse.
Don’t Guilt Yourself about Your Mental Health
Your mental health is incredibly personal. It’s something you’ve probably kept to yourself, or within a small circle of people, for a long time now. Telling your spouse that you have thoughts and feelings you can’t control is hardly easy. You may even begin to feel guilt or shame for your condition.
Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization, mental health disorders now affect one in four people.
Mental health disorders can be triggered by many things. For example, studies show that lower-income couples are more likely to be negatively affected by stress and mental health disorders than a couple who are more affluent. A trauma, social media addiction, and romantic separations are also common causes of mental health disorders and declines.
Don’t Pressure Yourself to Talk
If the thought of talking to your spouse about your mental health fills you with dread, try to calm down. Remember you do not owe anyone an explanation about your health. However, if you truly love your husband and you have vowed to be together forever and ever, it is part of good communication in marriage to share all aspects of your life—even parts of you that may be perceived as different.
In the end, divulging personal information about your mental health is your decision. Nobody can force you to talk about it, so only do so when you are ready.
Practice Makes Perfect
Part of healthy communication in relationships means knowing how to convey your thoughts properly. If you are nervous about having this conversation with your partner, it may be helpful for you to practice what you want to say beforehand.
Seeing a mental health or marriage therapist can be extremely helpful. With a therapist, you will be able to discuss how you want to approach the subject with your spouse as well as share any concerns you have about telling your partner. Your therapist or counsellor may also be able to role play some scenarios with you to help you prepare.
Choose a Calm Setting for Talking to Your Spouse about Your Mental Health
There’s no doubt that talking to your spouse about your mental health can be stressful. The last thing you want to feel is overwhelmed or anxious while trying to explain something to your spouse.
If you find you’re too nervous to say the words out loud, write your spouse a letter or send a text message to get the conversation started. (You may want to consider, however, whether your spouse would be more open to what you have to say if you say it in person rather than in writing.)
If you’re having the conversation in person, try to choose the right moment. Bringing it up when you and your spouse are tired, arguing, or under an irregular amount of stress will not be opportune for sharing something so personal. Instead, choose a moment when you are both feeling happy and relaxed together.
This will help you feel more comfortable being vulnerable with your spouse.
Consider Marriage Therapy for Your Mental Health
Just as marriage therapy can be helpful for getting your personal thoughts out in the open, it can also be helpful for couples to attend together to discuss the impact of mental health on their marriage.
Counselling can also help couples learn healthy communication in relationships and teach them how to talk about mental health in the future.
Understand the Outcome may not be Ideal
Even if you have a loving and respectful spouse, not all people understand the severity of mental health disorders. Your revelation may be met with confusion, irritation, or such phrases as “You’re just feeling depressed. You’ll be back to your old self in no time!”
Hearing such things can be incredibly frustrating, but don’t give up. The better you and your spouse get at communicating and empathizing with one another, the easier it will be for them to understand your feelings.
Have Research Ready for Your Spouse
After you tell your spouse about your mental health concerns, he will probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Try to think about what he may want to know and have a list ready with answers. This will help in the explanation process.
Your spouse’s questions may include:
- How long has this been going on?
- Can you describe what it feels like?
- Is there anything I can do to help?
- Do you have any triggers that I should know about?
- What happened to make you feel this way?
- Are these feelings common?
Your spouse can only understand the situation you are facing as a couple if he’s educated about mental health.
Learning about your condition will help both you and your spouse learn how to make healthy adaptions and cope with the changes in your relationship moving forward.
Many are affected by their struggles with mental health. Don’t suffer alone. Practice health communication in relationships by seeking marriage therapy. Be open and honest with your spouse about what you’re going through and help them to understand your thoughts and feelings.
By doing this, your relationship will greatly benefit.
What tips would you share for talking to your spouse about your mental health?
Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.