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I have Social Anxiety and am married to a very social man

Asked By: Anonymous     Views: 2,380 times

I was diagnosed as a child with social anxiety disorder. I was told it would get better as i got older but it seems it has gotten alot worse. I am now married, and my husband is very social.He doesn't understand my fears. he talks me into going out with people i don't know then he leaves me to go mingle or whatever. i always end up in the bathroom pacing and wringing my hands near tears or going and sitting in the car. He gets really mad at me. He thinks i am being stuck up and makes me feel guilty. whenver i try to explain he just rolls his eys and says "oh good grief get over it." we fight alot because of this. How do i make him understand this crippling fear is real? i am so depressed i feel like i am ruining his life.

You are describing a very typical scenario in a number of ways. The first is the biggest mistake that is made regarding social anxiety. This is the belief that “as you grow older it will get better”. This statement and belief characterizes the misunderstanding of this ‘disorder” by the general public, as well as, many professionals. It’s very easy to say this. It’s hard to look at and understand the clinical facts and reality! The fact is that when substantial patterns of interactive anxiety concurrent with social avoidance exist, the pathology worsens with time. Indeed; generally speaking; social anxiety is the “disease” that people do not want to talk about and do not want to understand. This is the reason that The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety produced the training film and documentary “Social Anxiety: The Untold Story”. I have worked with many couples where one spouse has social anxiety and the other is quite social. Currently, in one such case, the husband who suffers from social anxiety- driven hyper-hidrosis has become extremely over-dependent on medication. However; he has been very motivated in therapy and is currently tackling low level anxiety challenges without the medication and with the understanding of his spouse. For example going to a new restaurant with his wife and implementing his therapeutic strategy. His wife’s understanding was the result of productive communication between the two. My clinical instinct tells me that in your situation the “dance of anger” between the two of you runs deep. “Get over it” is an excessive critical script characterized by a lack of empathy on many levels. This script breeds anger. At the same time, the fact that your husband facilitates socialization can be a good process. By the way, I have seen this script extensively between parents (especially fathers; not to be sexist) and children. In one current case, the 30 year old male, who works in sales, is very attractive, was the starting quarterback on his high school football team, and is currently medication dependent (the wrong medicine by the way; given to him before he came to me) because of his debilitating anxiety and underlying depression. Growing up his father’s response was quite similar to your husband’s. This resulted in my patients’ “nurturing deficit” and self esteem dysfunction. My questions to you are:

  1. How have you tried to make your husband understand?
  2. Why do you think your husband does not want to understand your reality?
  3. What do you need to “own” (that you are not doing) for getting better in the challenge scenarios?

The following is part of a collection of questions and sharing by our readership community about a wide variety of aspects of social anxiety. Dive in and receive practical insights and advice. If you have a question that is not included you can contact Jonathan at jberent@socialanxiety.com.

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