A lot of people have phobias. To people who don’t have a phobia, it can be hard to understand. People develop phobias about a variety of things such as spiders, elevators, heights, blood, or airplanes. A phobia becomes a problem when it starts to interfere with a person’s daily life. For example, a person who is afraid of elevators may refuse to go any place where taking the stairs is not an option.
If your spouse has a phobia, it can be confusing and, at times, frustrating. Learning how to respond to your spouse’s phobias can be helpful. There are some strategies you can use to help your spouse as well.
If your spouse has a phobia, start by educating yourself about anxiety and phobias. If he has not yet sought treatment, encourage him to attend therapy. Often, short-term therapy can be very helpful by using exposure techniques to assist the person in overcoming irrational fears. However, the person must be motivated and willing to try in order for the treatment to be successful.
Learn how you can be supportive to your spouse, but also learn how to not continue enabling the problem. If your wife is afraid of snakes and demands that you check each room for spiders before she enters, she will never get over her fear. In fact, it is likely it will get worse over time. Set limits with what you are willing to do.
Also, don’t allow the phobia to start impacting your life as well. If you have always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, but your spouse refuses to fly, use critical thinking to to solve this problem. Perhaps your spouse is willing to receive therapy to overcome the fear. If not, consider planning the trip without your spouse. Invite a friend or relative, or go by yourself.
Your response to your spouse’s phobia will have an impact on your spouse’s anxiety. If you panic, it will likely incite further panic. If you are able to set appropriate limits and remain calm, it can be very helpful.