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Thread: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

  1. #1

    Married to a Person with Agoraphobia


    This is my first post here and I'm not really sure if this is a good place to discuss this, but I couldn't find a community for the spouses of those suffering from anxiety disorders.

    This is likely going to be long but please bear with me. I've been with my wife for nearly 5 years now, married for two of those. She has been suffering with anxiety the entire time we have been married and was eventually diagnosed with having agoraphobia a couple of years ago.

    For the most part I have adapted to living with a spouse with anxiety and I generally felt I was a supportive husband. But recently, I'm starting to get depressed and feel like I am missing out on things I want in life.

    I am a BIG fan of travel and my long-term goal is to be financially free so I can travel the world without worrying about the cost. The problem with this is a) my wife cannot stand getting on a flight (or any public transit) and the thought of travel makes her want to die. Once she has reached the destination, however, she loves it. And b) she cares more about living an anxiety free life than she does about money.

    My wife recently lost her job that paid $90,000 and decided not to look for work again, and instead started her own business working from home while I pay all of the family bills. Ever since then she has not had any success in her business (yet - it hasn't been long) but she is happier than ever. Working always provoked anxiety for her to the extent she was miserable, so staying at home has removed that. I'm pleased she is happy, but I'm more miserable than any point in our relationship.

    I feel like if my wife had her way she would happily move to the middle of nowhere, stay at home, work remotely and not interact with anybody other than via chat/email/video calls etc. She would probably be content earning little money and having no social life. The only people we currently see are her parents at the weekend. We very rarely do anything of an evening or weekend, at most we might walk our dog in the park or go to the movies (aisle seat, nearest the exit of course).

    My wife has also now decided she would like to have children in the next couple of years, which I am not set on at all (anxiety or not). When my wife is hardly able to live a normal life herself I can't help but feel like most (if not all) of the responsibilities of having a child will fall on me. Who is going to take them to school, to sports, to socialize, to the doctor? You guessed it, me again.

    She is already unable to do anything for herself that involves public interaction, she always asks for me to do things or for me to do it with her. I can't hold my wife's hand in everything she does, as well as looking after a child.

    All in all, I feel like my wife's agoraphobia is controlling her life and as a result the decisions she makes and the goals she sets herself. I don't want the life I think she wants to build to avoid her anxiety. Am I selfish for thinking this way? I feel guilty for being upset and unsupportive, but I can't go on forever prioritizing her anxiety over my life goals. If we don't want the same things (anxiety or not) I don't know how we are going to make it work long-term.

    She says I can go and do everything I want while she stays at home if it's an issue. That's not a marriage to me...I went to NY on vacation on my own recently and while I enjoyed it greatly, it's not the same with nobody to share it with.

    My wife has tried therapy once or twice but I never felt she gave it the proper effort it requires to make a real change. As soon as it came to her being challenged to face her fears she gave up and claimed she didn't need the help. She CLEARLY needs help but obviously doesn't want it. I do feel like I enable her behaviour by helping her to avoid things that make her anxious, or always being there if she needs me. What am I to do though? I can't make her do anything she doesn't want to.

    I love my wife dearly and it hurts me knowing how happy we both could be if it wasn't for this damned agoraphobia!

    Any advice would be MUCH appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2016

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    This is a huge couple of issues that you and your wife need to discuss. I recommend having these discussions within the presence of a therapist if possible. You two really need to see what you want from this relationship. She may well believe that her social anxiety and agoraphobia is not an issue. I would seek some marriage counseling.
    I'm still a work in progress.
    Currently working on: World Domination

  3. #3

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    Quote Originally Posted by AntsyVee View Post
    This is a huge couple of issues that you and your wife need to discuss. I recommend having these discussions within the presence of a therapist if possible. You two really need to see what you want from this relationship. She may well believe that her social anxiety and agoraphobia is not an issue. I would seek some marriage counseling.
    I wish she was more receptive to this idea but she generally hates therapists, especially couples therapy. I have said we should do couples therapy numerous times (sometimes relating to anxiety, sometimes not). She doesn't like other people telling her how to feel, or judging her behavior. With friends or family she can just shrug it off, when a therapist tells you something it's hard to refute.

    I don't want to go at her with an ultimatum but eventually we will have no options remaining.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    Wow... I totally get this. The similarities are uncanny.

    First welcome. While this is a site for anxiety sufferers, I'm not one of them. I've had my share of some depression and "scanxiety" due to real serious health issues. I just try too help and offer a rational perspective when irrationality rules. I have a daughter that suffers from depression and anxiety and it's helped me understand what she's dealing with. There is a lot of information here in the stickies, article and links.

    While our spouses (ex spouse in my case) don't share the same mental illness classification, reading your post brought me back to those times and they weren't pleasant I assure you.

    My ex and I were married for 14 years. After the birth of our second child, our daughter, she became depressed. It manifested itself into hoarding (You can't imagine). I felt helpless. I worked full time and she had stopped working to be a stay at home Mom. Basically, most of her salary would go to day care so it made sense. I could cover expenses. Things really started to get bad the last year. We were in pretty big trouble about 6 months before we separated and after a hard talk, me saying I can't take it anymore etc., she conceded and agreed to go to therapy. After two visits, the therapist wanted to see us separately. She went for just a few and stopped going. I knew then it was over and we separated shortly afterwards.

    What I'm saying here is I feel you. I know exactly what you're dealing with and how it feels when you lose the one you love to mental illness. It's one thing to lose a loved one to a physical illness but when it's a mental illness it brings hurt to a whole new level.

    I really feel you need to sit down and have a heart to heart. You have to let her know how you feel so that both of you can get help. If you don't the angst you feel now will only grow. Suggest couples therapy. You both need to talk and express your feelings and work on finding resolution, acceptance and love for each other. I believe your wife should also seek out additional counseling to help her with what appears to be Agoraphobia. The bottom line is, she's going to have to want to help herself. You can't force her. I truly believe in many cases, with hard work, one can recover from mental illness. If she refuses, there may be some difficult decisions to make.

    I wish you peace and as always...

    Positive thoughts
    Last edited by Fishmanpa; 27-01-18 at 01:58.
    "Eat. Drink. Enjoy the work you do. Be thankful for the blessings God gives you in this life. Live, love and seek out the things that bring your heart joy. The rest is meaningless... Like chasing the wind." King Solomon

    The best help is the help you give yourself!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    Welcome to the site

    I can only speak from a sufferer's perspective, but no I don't think you're being selfish. A relationship cannot be all one way and your feeling are just as important as your wife's. Does your wife do anything proactive to address her anxiety problems? It sounds as though you are very patient and understanding but there does need to be some meeting half way.

    Does your wife know how you're feeling? If it were me, I'd want to know and have the chance to do something about it. As others have said, some big issues to talk about together. You're right that you cannot make her do anything she doesn't want to do, but you too deserve the chance to lead a happy and fulfilling life. There are no overnight cures for anxiety (how I wish there were!) but some positive steps forward can lead to getting over the problem.

    I wish you well
    'If you're going through hell, keep going' (Winston Churchill)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2016

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    Hi And welcome aboard to NMP It's not easy for you The thing is though you both need to sit down and discuss this. It's a very serious issue you have here. I haven't mentioned this for ages but feel I should do. There are various forms of therapy out there it's about finding the right one for her. Ok if you look at you will see they use a 12 step programme to a better MH state this programme is based around the 12 steps that GA and AA etc uses I know these 12 step programmes work as I was a member of GA some years back. Take a look print the 12 steps out discuss your wifes problem with her it's the only way you cant continue like you are doing. Good luck and let us know how you get on. ATB

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    yikes this is a hard situation! I can't give any advice but I can say you are definitely not being selfish and have no need to feel guilty in wanting your needs met.
    I really hope you both find the solution so you can both be happy and healthy

  8. #8

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    Sorry for the delayed response here and thanks to those who have written back!

    So over the weekend I addressed my concerns with my wife and, as is often the case, she became quite defensive. She feels like she HAS made an effort with her anxiety and is sad that I don't see it. She says she has improved a lot since we first met and for now she is happy with where she is at and she doesn't intend to address her anxiety issues at the present time, but didn't rule it out in the future.

    She said I must be dreaming if I think she will ever want the same goal as I do (traveling the world) and that it is highly unlikely that will ever happen.

    I brought up the fact she is no longer looking for work and instead wants to work at home as a sign of avoiding anxiety, but she claims she just hates traditional employment and would rather be her own boss (anxiety or not). To be honest I find that very hard to believe but it's not something I can argue too much.

    I also brought up the fact having children would be very difficult with her condition and I am not willing to go down that road when I know most of the responsibility will fall on me. She said while she wants children she also knows it might never become a reality.

    I told her it hurts me that she prioritizes her anxiety over her husband (no travel, no income) and it saddens me even further that she would rather live with her anxiety than fulfill her own goal of raising a family. I told her her entire life is dictated by her anxiety and it's always the first factor that has to be considered when making a decision, regardless of the importance of the decision to be made. She didn't really have a response to that.

    To top everything off, she said she hates living and the only reason she is still alive is because of her family (parents) and myself. I can't tell if she is serious or if it's just emotional manipulation but either way it's concerning to hear.

    All in all, it did not go well and it does not seem like she wants to try and improve, no matter what the consequences might be. I can't make her want to get better so I'm not sure what is left that I can do.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2016

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    This is such a awful cross for you to bear mate. You have my empathy on this. It could be she is in denial that things are ok on her side of the fence, but clearly you see different think you have done your best it's now up to her, wether you can keep going and accepting for now that things aren't changing soon is another story. You will eventually have to look at the bigger picture and decide what is right for you ATB

  10. #10

    Re: Married to a Person with Agoraphobia

    This sounds like such a tough situation to be in, has any progress been made between you and your wife? It is so vitally important that we address and try to seek help for our MH issues. It is not unreasonable for you to want the best for her and her recovery as well as a shared life together, it sadly does seem like she is living in denial of the reality to protect herself. I suffer with anxiety, agoraphobia and CPTSD and I'd have given everything to have such support to face and deal with my issues. They have to be faced and dealt with and ones partner must be considered when it comes to such lifestyle and financial decisions, it is ultimately selfish not to be considerate of those we love, so I feel for you.

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