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Carolyn Hax: More than his anxiety affects this relationship

Published June 12, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • How do you tell someone you love that you think they might have a psychiatric issue that needs to be addressed, i.e., crippling anxiety?

My boyfriend keeps saying he doesn't want to get married until he's ready to have kids because he's stressed out all the time. However, he won't do anything to alleviate the stress except to suggest moving across the country, where he's never lived, because the nice weather will make all of his problems go away.

I think it's horse-pucky. His mom also has an anxiety disorder, which makes me think that's what's going on with him.

Wants to Move Forward

Dear Forward • It will be a big deal later — possibly starting tomorrow — but his anxiety is not the problem here.

The problem is that you have a "move forward" agenda with your boyfriend and you haven't yet learned to speak the truth to him.

"Your mother has an anxiety disorder. You're telling me you're too stressed out for marriage and kids, then doing some dance about weather. Isn't it time to connect the dots and get screened for anxiety yourself?"

If expressing honest concern is enough to derail your relationship, then, wow, wouldn't that be a good thing to know before you relocate or reproduce?

"Psychiatric issue" (wrongly) has a bogeyman aura about it, but in fact a long and typical life is, for everyone, a series of challenges both from within and without. To keep them from dominating the course of your life, you have to be able to square yourself and deal with them — and that's true whether they're your challenges or your partner's, clinical or within a normal range, easy to talk about or approachable only after deep breathing, solvable or the end of the relationship.

As-is, you don't like your life with your boyfriend. The part of your brain that's willing to admit this has to be the one doing the talking. You love him, so you're going to worry that using this voice will be mean, but it's not. Suppressing it is.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.