By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
It’s easy to get bogged down by worry, but it’s essential to resist the pull. Worrying prevents you from living life fully, and from truly experiencing the richness of your relationships–especially your marriage. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asks, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Worry occupies your mind, but it accomplishes nothing. It steals your time and misdirects your focus. It borrows trouble, creating all manner of worst-case scenarios in your mind that will probably never come to be.
At its very worst, worry can turn you into a destructive person before you realize what has happened. Chronic, pervasive worry becomes toxic to you, to your spouse, and ultimately to your marriage. Here are 4 ways that worry can cripple your relationship.
WORRY DISTRACTS YOU.
In our present distraction-filled world, why would you want to add another distraction to the stack? If you spend your time worrying, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Worry will keep your head out of the game–in all areas. You won’t be focused on the right areas of your marriage, your parenting, your job, or anything else. Negative thoughts and feelings will draw you like a magnet, and you’ll spend so much time in that muck that you will neglect truly important things.
WORRY DISTANCES YOU.
While you’re busy staying distracted by your worries, you’ll also find yourself doing two more destructive things:withdrawing and ruminating. Let us explain.
When you’re chronically worried, you’ll withdraw into yourself, spending more time in your own mind than interacting with others–namely, your spouse. And your increased time alone in your head will become obvious. You may send the wrong signals; withdrawal might communicate to your spouse that you’re detached, disinterested, or angry, when all you really are is worried.
Ruminating means that you spend a lot of time dwelling on a particular subject, going round and round over the same idea (and it’s almost always something negative). You could liken it to spinning deeper and deeper into a hole of your own making. So when you do communicate with your spouse, chronic worry will dictate that these conversations be dominated by rumination, thus bringing your spouse down instead of building them up.
WORRY DAMAGES TRUST.
Let worry dig its heels in, and soon you may find yourself becoming suspicious of your spouse (or others who are close to you) without cause. Worry can develop a mind of its own, hijacking your otherwise good sense and twisting it to create horrifying scenarios. If you’re not careful, these scenarios can begin to include your spouse.
WORRY DISRUPTS INTIMACY.
Ultimately, when a spouse worries constantly, intimacy in the marriage is disrupted. As the chronically worried spouse spins out of control into distraction, withdrawal, rumination, and mistrust, it doesn’t take long for intimacy to break down. A marriage with dysfunctional (or nonexistent) intimacy simply won’t hold up to life’s challenges.
In conclusion, if you recognize yourself as a chronic worrier, there is absolutely hope. Your spouse wants to help and support you, so consider calmly approaching him or her and expressing your desire for help with your worries. Allow your spouse to reassure you, and if needed, to help you find a licensed counselor who can help you to overcome the worry that has taken over your mind, your heart, and your life.