I haven’t done any marriage counseling since my internship in graduate school, so I asked my good friend Summer McKinney to be on the show to talk about how you can support your spouse who is struggling with anxiety. She provides some excellent tips such as
- When is it a good time to pursue marriage counseling? Hint: not when most people do!
- How to be present for your spouse
- What they might need from you when anxiety hits
- What to do if you are driven nuts by your spouse’s anxious behavior or OCD rituals
- Anxiety as a third party in the marriage
Resources and links:
Transcript Of Episode 15
Welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD, Episode 15. I am your host Carrie Bock. Today we are talking about supporting your anxious spouse. I was able to interview my good friend Summer McKinney who is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist to have a conversation just in what do you do if you have a spouse who’s struggling with anxiety or OCD. How can you be supportive and helpful them in that process while at the same time working through maybe some of your own frustrations that you might have with how the anxiety is affecting the marriage? I think there are some good takeaways from this one. So let’s dive right in.
Carrie: [00:01:06] So tell us a little bit about yourself.
Summer: My name is Summer McKinney and I have a private practice here in Smyrna, marriage, family, individual counseling. I’ve been practicing therapy for the past eight years.
Carrie: Awesome. How did you decide to become a marriage and family therapist? [00:01:30] There are many different types of therapists and many different specializations, and some people are licensed clinical social workers. Some people are licensed professional counselors. And so you chose this licensed marriage and family therapy route.
Summer: Yes. I started out working in church high school ministry as a high school girls director.[00:01:54] I had gone through and got my master’s in education. I had taught missions and stuff, and God put me in that position, opened up those doors for me to be in that position. I was working a lot with youth and a parent had asked me as I was talking with her child and stuff, she said, “well, what are your credentials?”
[00:02:11] I had always wanted to do counseling, but I guess not confident and stuff I had already gone through. I went back and furthered my education, secondary education thinking that I was going to teach. In the back of my mind, I’d always loved counseling. My dad does counseling at a school corporation. [00:02:31] And so that was always kind of there but I was really nervous. Just not really confident like “Do I have what it takes to go and get this degree?” and stuff like that. That kind of question “What are your credentials” really hit me a lot because I wanted to be able to be credible in that. [00:02:50] That pushed me to go and pursue the degree.
I chose marriage and family because that just hits home with me more so. Relationships, working amongst the family system, the units that people are in. My parents did foster care when I was in high school. And so just seeing how systems impact a child or a whole family unit whether does that family system itself or extended family or extended systems. [00:03:24] To me, that just made a lot of sense. So that is why I chose marriage and family therapy.
Carrie: It’s really interesting when you look at how much we’re impacted by other people and other relationships in our life. Looking at somebody as a whole person, who do they have, surrounding them and whether that’s supporting them, or sometimes, unfortunately that’s leading to some of the dysfunctional behavior that they have. [00:03:55] It’s interesting to me, to what you were saying of when that lady questioned you about your credentials. You already had a master’s degree in education, right?
Summer: Yes. I’m a life learner, whether it’s back at school or just self- learning and it’s just me, I value education. I value knowledge. Of course, I totally agree with that saying “The more you know, the more you don’t know.” It’s just like, “Wow, there’s so much out there.” I want to be able to say yes, I have the right to speak into this because I have training. I have knowledge. [00:04:40] I have wisdom in this. It’s not just my opinion. And so that especially I think in today’s culture is really important because everybody has opinions. Where’s the facts? Where’s the research? Where’s the truth and all of this but it can’t be found. Sometimes there’s multiple truths and things, but that’s really for me that’s something I value. [00:05:01]
I think God used that to push me in that direction. Again, knowing that I was not confident in myself at that time and so he used the words of that parent to push me in that direction because I wanted it. I really didn’t want it deep down.
Carrie: It’s interesting how much overlap to between education and counseling because as counselors, we are educators, we are teaching people new skills. So we are informing them about research. We are talking with them about mind, body connection issues. So that definitely worked well together. And you probably see how God has woven all of those things in your life to where you are now.
Summer: [00:05:53] Absolutely. Just the marriage of the two. I do a lot of psycho-education and workshops and just speaking whether it’s a school or whether it’s a church. I just love that piece of bringing that knowledge to other people. It’s not like, “Oh, I’m this expert in this area” and counseling as well. You have the same skill sets and knowledge. It’s just we all have different population groups. We all have different spheres of influence that we can take this information that maybe other people don’t know, or maybe they know, but they don’t know how to apply it. I love the marriage between education and therapy. [00:06:36] It’s one of my favorite things.
Carrie: One of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show was to talk a little bit about marriage counseling because that’s not one of my specialty areas. It’s funny and a little bit comical to me that people sometimes will email me or call me and say, “Hey, I’m looking for marriage counseling and we really wanted you to do that” even though that’s nowhere kind of on my online listings or profiles. I’m like “If only you guys knew the last time I did marriage counseling was in my internship over 10 years ago. I’m pretty sure those couples aren’t together anymore. This is not a good situation.”
[00:07:21] Maybe you could answer a little bit for people who feel like they’re struggling in their marriage in some way, shape or form, how do you feel like people know when it’s a good time to pursue marriage counseling? Just in general.
Summer: I actually start back and I tell people that are even just dating, [00:07:45] don’t wait for an engagement to start premarital therapy. You can back up therapy. If you’re really serious, go ahead and go in and talk about some of the things. Communication is huge. We all think, especially in the initial phase of dating like “yes, we could stay up till four o’clock in the morning talking to the phone.” [00:08:04] We’re great communicators. And really that’s just talk. That’s not necessarily communication. When you get married, things just exacerbate things from before that maybe were not that big deal, or maybe you just kind of laughed it off or, Oh, that’s so cute that they do this. [00:08:25] And it really, it becomes that petty that you just want to, “Oh my gosh, just stop”
Things when you get married, definitely get bigger. Having some of those tools. It’s just all about utilizing the skill sets and these tools in ways that are going to help build communication, help bring resolve when conflict does come or when there’s differences because you’re not marrying a duplicate of yourself. You’re marrying somebody else with their own background, their own experiences, sometimes their own beliefs, their own values. You can have shared values but a different priority of those shared values, which can create conflict. I think that any time during the course of a relationship is beneficial to go to therapy. Don’t wait for a problem to happen.
[00:09:14] We take vitamins or we work out. We do all these preventative things in other aspects of our life. So go ahead and do care and enrichment in your relationship, whether it is married or engaged, dating. Go ahead and do those things because it’s only going to help it. It’s not going to hurt it.
Carrie: Right. I know for Steve and I, we had a little bit of premarital counseling and we also met with someone that I considered to be a mentor and it was nice to get some of those hard questions asked by an objective third party. So it would be like, “okay, tell us about a fight that you got in?” [00:09:57] How did you resolve that? Or I think they asked what annoys you about the other person. And we were able to hear each other’s answers so that you didn’t just look at everything like it’s all flowers and rainbows and wonderful, like you said with kind of some of the honeymoon glasses on. I appreciate what you’re saying going when you don’t necessarily have a major problem. Maybe you just feel like you’re not seeing eye to eye with your spouse when you’re trying to communicate things and you might be able to learn some skills that could help you moving forward so that you don’t have to get into those big problems. [00:10:38] I think sometimes people wait to get marriage counseling until one or both parties is ready to jet out.
Summer: Right. It’s an ultimatum or the rescue itself. A lot of times there’s such deep wounds there that it’s hard to repair. I mean not always. I mean, Don’t lose that hope but it is hard if you keep pushing those things off.[00:11:07] It doesn’t get better.
I’m glad that things are changing. The stigma around therapy is improving. The stigma around mental health is it’s getting better. We’re not there yet but I’m so glad that people are open. So many of my clients are like “I tell everybody that I go to therapy because I want them to know that it’s okay.”
[00:11:31] And I love that they feel free to do that and so many of their friends have looked up a therapist in their area to talk with. That just makes me feel good knowing that something that I do is helping another person and that they are then helping other people by normalizing that piece of therapy.
[00:11:58] It’s not just when things are bad or you need mental health or whatever it’s like. This is really good for just health for life.
Carrie: Yeah. That’s so good. I think that was one of the reasons that we’re on this podcast, talking about these things too, is because a lot of times in the church, maybe people haven’t heard those positive messages about therapy, or they think they have to have it all together because they’re a Christian and really we’re just broken people trying to follow Christ and figure out life and how to pursue Him and the calling that He has on our lives.
[00:12:36] So that’s so great. The points that you pointed out about we are reducing stigma but we also still have a little ways to go too.
So we’re talking about supporting your spouse when your spouse has anxiety or OCD, or I’m sure some of these things apply for other areas as well like depression. [00:13:01] I imagine maybe there are spouses who want to be supportive, but they feel paralyzed or like “how do I really help my spouse with anxiety?” What kind of thoughts or advice do you have on that?
Summer: Sure. I think the first thing is listen and be that support. Listening to hear what are the needs. Don’t be dismissive or minimize the fear or the concern that’s there. Just being able to be a sounding board for them. When you come along you’re like, “Oh, that’s silly. Don’t worry about that.” You minimize something that is very real to them. I think it’s really important just to be that support. You had mentioned Carrie, about being in the church and things around stigmas in the church. A big one that I come across a lot with that anxiety is that “you’re just not trusting God” or “you’re just not praying enough or maybe your faith isn’t strong enough” and that creates even deeper wounds especially if it’s a spouse coming in and bring up or that positivity piece, “You just gotta be positive and think positive.” People with anxiety or really any kind of mental health issues, they don’t want this. They didn’t ask [00:14:29] for this. To come at them in those kinds of negative ways just creates even more shame. I think being a good listener, being a good support for them through that is just really foundational.
Carrie: I think we underestimate whether it’s in our relationship with our spouse or in friendships or in people that we encounter in the church.
[00:14:59] I think we underestimate the power may be of presence, of just giving our time and our attention and really listening. Not listening for what’s the right answer, “Do I say back to you?” but listening for like, “I hear you. I see your story. I’m so sorry that you’re struggling with that. How can I help you?”
Summer: [00:15:25] Absolutely. I think we are in a culture that’s busy. We strive to achieve and there’s so much stress. We wear stress as a badge of honor.
Some of the things that I do with my clients is it’s just helping them to be present and to be able to know their bodies because we’re just so accustomed to stress that it’s normal. It’s like, wait, that’s not normal. Just because society or culture say that this is normal to feel this way but no. You need to be able to hear your body and, you know, “Oh my shoulders are really heavy.[00:16:18] Okay. Well, I need to be able to rest or decompress or find some peace” because stress creates a whole lot of health issues. It can further that anxiousness. I think stress, the busyness, we don’t have time for people. We do those, those cordial, you know, “We’re in the South.
[00:16:42] And so it’s “I’m just being nice and asking, but I don’t really care.” “How are you? If you go beyond fine. “I gotta go here or there.” And so we’re really missing connection on those deeper levels. And so I do think that even a family unit could be like ships passing in the night with whether it’s kids or work and different things going on. [00:17:06]
Being able to take time for each other to hear each other, to be present, as you said. It’s okay to not know, it’s okay to be there. “I don’t know what to say to you.” “I don’t know how to help.” I say that sometimes even just those words. “I’m not sure what to do” can be refreshing because too many times, people try to come and fix it. [00:17:32] I don’t need a fixer. You need somebody who can just be in it with you.
Carrie: Right. Do you find that not to pick on husbands, but I think sometimes husbands tend to be more of the fixers and women tend to be a little bit more emotional. Do you find that husbands a lot of times want to put a bandaid on it or say like, “Hey, it’s okay” or “Oh, don’t worry about it.” And they’re trying to keep it, like you said “positive and lighthearted.” but really what the woman might be experiencing is, “Oh, he just totally dismissed what I just said or my feelings.”
Summer: I know that there is the stereotype of men being that way and women. I think it’s more personality because “I am the fixer” trying to help him fix things, but I’m the one that tries to solicit that advice.[00:18:29] That’s most of the times unwanted. I think it’s more of the personality traits that come into play on those things. And so it’s being mindful. It’s being aware of, “okay, I need to step back. It’s not about me trying to fix it.” That’s not what that person needs. Well, actually, what I need to do is ask them what they need.
[00:18:52] It’s both on communication. It’s the job of the person who is presenting whatever symptom it may be, whether it’s anxiousness or depression, or anything to communicate, “Hey, this is what’s going on with me.” And it’s also on that end of that person who’s receiving and hearing this, or even saying it to say, “Hey, what do you need?”
[00:19:18] “How can I help you?” rather than inserting what they think is needed because what I would want can be completely different than what my husband wants. And honestly, most of the time it is completely different than what my husband wants. So I think we need to do more of asking than assuming or fixing how we would want it fixed.
Carrie: [00:19:38] I think you bring up a good point there of like support looks different for different people. And I don’t know if that’s related to love languages at all, but for some people they may want someone to talk them through a situation. For other people they may just want that person to not really talk a whole lot and just let them vent or let them get it out.
[00:20:05] And so by saying, “What do you need me to do?” Like for example, when you’re having a panic attack, “how would you like me to respond?” “What do you think might be most helpful?” That person may not know right away. There may be some trial and error that has to happen in order to figure out what works best.
Summer: [00:20:31] And that is a huge piece of being able to identify “What is my need?” This goes beyond me. This is anybody. When I can identify my feelings. What is that feel like communicating what’s going on? What is that anger saying? Or what is that fear saying? [00:20:52] And then being able to say, “okay, what does it need? What do I need?” Sometimes you’re right. We are not sure what it needs and how to help ourselves, but sometimes we do sometimes it’s “I just need a hug.” “I need that reassurance.” And it is scary to communicate that because we fear rejection. As people, no matter what age we are, we fear being rejected. [00:21:18] And so it can be scary to communicate those feelings and those needs at that moment, but if we don’t take the risk and this is a huge part of Marriage therapy is we have to take the risk to be vulnerable because if we get that risk, then we’re totally missing out on something that could be amazing and great. [00:21:41] The very thing that we need that support, we could be missing out on that.
Carrie: Yeah, it’s so good because I think a lot of times people may have been in situations where they felt guilt, either over having needs or guilt over expressing their needs. Sometimes telling clients it’s normal to have needs. That’s a part of being human. [00:22:10] And not only is it normal and okay to have needs, but then it’s okay for you to ask someone else for what you need. And that doesn’t make you selfish or an awful person, but sometimes we can get in this caretaker mode of that causes and creates insurance up anxiety of “okay I have to take care of everybody.”
[00:22:35] And then myself is like totally last. I don’t take care of myself. And then nobody’s advocating for myself or what I want or need.
Summer: Yeah. That self care is so important. When you get on an airplane, put on the oxygen mask first, before you get other people, and it goes against our instinct especially if you’re a parent with children. It goes, we want to.
[00:22:59] get to them first that were of no help If we passed out. And so that same thing in your relationship, or as a caretaker, any of those aspects of dynamics that come into play, if you’re not making yourself a priority, you are not going to be the best version of yourself that you can be for your family unit, for your relationship. And so you have to have self-care. You have to make yourself a priority in that. I do want to say when you are being vulnerable and sharing those things, you need to make sure that it is a safe person. If you are in an abusive relationship or a relationship where there are certain areas that maybe it’s not safe emotionally or spiritually or mentally. That would only do further damage. [00:23:55]
Some of these skill sets, being vulnerable, sharing the needs and stuff, it’s important to be in that safe environment because if it’s not a safe partner or safe family member, it’s only going to cause more damage.
Carrie: Absolutely. I think there may be people who are in situations as well that aren’t necessarily to that extreme where they’re unsafe, but they may feel like, “Okay, I’ve tried to open up to my partner before, or I’ve tried to talk with them about what’s going on with me and it just kind of falls flat” or “I don’t get the emotional response or the support that I’m looking for.” I think in those situations, it’s really great as far as having a marriage counselor who’s a third party to be able to comment and say like, “Hey, did you see what your spouse was just trying to communicate to you there?” You see what you need from this person now. And it helps bridge a gap of communication for them to be able to receive that support.
Summer: Absolutely. I think that part of my job is to feel those pieces where things maybe start to heighten a little bit, soften those areas and allow that emotional engagement in a new way to take place. Because so many times we are in that negative mindset that it can’t happen because “it didn’t happen before and see all those times in the past when we tried and I was minimized.” And so being able to allow a new experience of doing that is still important. That’s why therapy is really great to help give new experiences to the old so that you know, “we can do this” [00:25:48] You’re setting up some wins in there for the relationship and it’s so beautiful to see those happen and the connection and just the love that takes place whenever couples finally, “Oh wow. He does care.” “She does respect me or love me and value.” It’s just so neat to see some of those things take place because a lot of times these wounds have been going on for years and so to finally be met with what you’ve been desiring all along, it’s just beautiful to see.
Carrie: Yeah. I know too that there can be situations and maybe you’ve experienced this with some of the couples that you’ve worked with, sometimes anxiety can drive the other spouse a little nuts because they feel like either the person who’s anxious is maybe asking a lot of questions or they’re trying to control things out of their anxiety. [00:26:56] They may be asking for a lot of reassurance and it might be exhausting or wearing on that spouse. And I’ll throw into for OCD. Sometimes people with OCD will rope their spouses into their process, into some of their compulsions and want them to engage in some of those with them. So I guess talk a little bit about that. [00:27:22] Maybe some help for those spouses who feel like I’m just being driven badly by this anxiety.
Summer: I think it’s really important to have boundaries. Sometimes those can be hard to define. And so I think again that can be where therapy can help. Individual therapy for the person with the anxiety, so that they can gather their own coping mechanisms and skill sets. Those self-regulating self-soothing kind of skill sets. Couples therapy can help them to communicate together, to help establish some boundaries. It’s not that you can’t ask any questions, but when you have 30 questions, that is exhausting.
[00:28:09] Rather than being dependent on that person to rescue you or to somehow fix or change what’s going on, being able to say, “okay, what do I have within myself to help me where their support is an aid to it. So the partner is not the savior, not the rescue.
[00:28:36] It’s really important when you get into knowing your cycle. So if you’re anxious, knowing your anxiety cycle, that’s there knowing your couple dynamic and your couple cycle. There is going to be really important too because then you can start to identify it earlier and catch it before it spirals. [00:28:57] And so that’s really important too is identify that.
Carrie: I think probably one thing that would be really loving for a spouse maybe to say to someone is, “Hey, I’m noticing that this topic of conversation or this situation that you’re dealing with, or maybe a problem that we’re trying to solve, it seems like, it’s ramping up your anxiety.” Because the spouse may notice possibly before the individual that they’re getting anxious, just depending on people’s awareness levels. A lot of times people can see things we can’t see in ourselves.
Summer: Yeah. It’s when we identify those pieces. Sometimes the other person’s maybe not aware of it but we’re on the outside. We can maybe bring that to attention or if that person identifies those pieces, being able to communicate that. So for example, my husband deals with some anxiety. At night, if I bring up bills or money or financial talk, like it just kind of just gets his mind. He has a hard time shutting it down. [00:30:04] And so I have learned, and sometimes I have to be reminded not to talk about this at night. For me, I’m just so busy through the day that whenever I’m finally in bed and my mind coming down from the business of the day. All of the different things start coming into play and I’ll just help me relax like, “Oh, Hey, did we?” and I’m gonna be up for a little bit longer just processing for himself.
[00:30:36] We need to be respectful of the requests of our partner, whether it’s, “Hey, at this time of day, I don’t want to have these kinds of conversations” or, “Hey, I get really stressed out” or “we go on a trip.” I kind of crazy person before we go on vacation. I want to make sure the house is good.
[00:30:58] So whenever we come back home, I don’t have to do any cleaning, you know and just packing and all that kind of stuff. And so my husband knows I just sometimes need space. And so if he takes our child and goes out for a little bit just to give me the house to myself so I can be my crazy self by myself for a little bit.
[00:31:18] It’s kind of knowing the needs of your spouse, knowing your spouse and being able to respect and give that space or whatever the request is that they have to help them in that process, whether it’s just stress or whether it is that full-blown anxiety or those panic attacks.
[00:31:38] You know, if it’s social anxiety being able to say, “Okay, here’s a code word that we have a little bit like I’m, I’m starting to feel certain things.” Let’s start heading out kind of a thing. So it’s not like everybody else, you know, cause embarrassment is a big thing. It’s just between you guys. “Okay. I heard the code word. All right. We’re going to celebrate it by and we’re gonna start to head out.”
So there’s different ways that you can accommodate and support each other based on those requests, those needs. It’s both, communicating when you. are aware of those things, but then also for the partner to maybe inquire like, “Hey, I’m noticing this, do you find that to be true for you?”
[00:32:25] That way, because you’re exploring it together. You’re a unit. Anxiety can be like the third person in the marriage. The worst thing is just to dismiss it and act like it’s not there. Acknowledge it and give it a name iff you want to. I have a client that her anxiety is called “the jerk.” [00:32:47] The jerk went with me today to the grocery store. And I love it and I encourage that even the couple dynamic. Rather than pitting at each other, the blaming and stuff like that, let’s call our cycle. It’s the cycle doing this. [00:33:04] It’s not you. I think that that can really help to alleviate because it is a third-party in the marriage. It is a third party in the relationship. And so I think that being able to put that some shift, that blame so to speak where it goes rather than the person allows room for grace.
Carrie: [00:33:23] Yeah. That’s so huge because if you look at it “as my spouse is not what I’m fighting against” like I’m wanting to maybe work with this anxiety and manage it differently, not my spouse. And so that takes the attention away and maybe eases some of those conflicts that may occur. I think accommodating each other in marriage is a huge thing and being willing to sacrifice your own interests at times. You may want to stay at the party for three hours, but you know, you’re like, it’s going to be amazing for your spouse to tolerate one hour. Sometimes you may just have to be like, “Hey, let’s just go to the party for one hour or we’re just going to quickly drop in and drop out.” [00:34:15] And it’s not a big deal, but also encouraging someone with maybe some social challenges to still get out there, “Okay. Let’s not stay home because that would just be giving into the anxiety.”
Summer: Yeah, that only perpetuates the cycle. I think it’s identifying that there is a shame piece that comes into play here.[00:34:38] You feel bad that you are impacting your partner’s life in this way. You feel guilty about different things and then you feel just an adequacy of yourself as well. And so while you’re trying to find relief from the negative and unwanted feelings that you have, the way that your partner interacts with you can really make a difference on that shame piece because it can perpetuate it. [00:35:13] If you come at with those accusations or just that resentment and that bitterness, it can really perpetuate those wounds that are there.
Carrie: Right. So we talked the little bit about listening to your spouse. We talked and he like really, truly listening saying, how can I help you and support you in this? [00:35:37] Maybe sometimes making compromises or meeting halfway there. Anything else that you’d add to that advice? I
Summer: I think just the acceptance. Accepting them, accepting your partner for all who they are. That’s important regardless of having anxiety or not having anxiety. I think sometimes we forget, we only see the negative things that come into play or the external stressors that impact relationships and family units [00:36:16] and we forget the good. And so I’ve seen loving, accepting all of who they are and anxiety is a piece of who they are. It doesn’t define them. That doesn’t define who you are, but it shapes an aspect of who you are. And so being able to accept that piece of them and loving them through whatever episodes or symptoms they are displaying. It kind of goes back to just some pieces of those attachments of feeling worthy, feeling loved, valued.
[00:36:55] As spouses, as partners, as family members, as we interact with each other, being able to dig down into those deeper aspects of acceptance and love and, and worth. I think that’s just really huge.
Carrie: We don’t realize how accepting people where they’re at is transformative. We think if I accept you where you’re at then that means you’re just going to stay stuck, [00:37:24] but really it’s that beginning point that stirs up something within you of like, “I want to grow. I want to be a better person. I want to have positive outcomes because this person is really seeing me for who I am and they are totally loving me and totally accepting me. And now I want to be a better person.” [00:37:48] I think that that happens in marriage. I really think that that’s a parallel of what happens in our relationship with Christ like part of this sanctification process.
Summer: Yeah. I totally agree. It makes me think of Paul in Acts and he comes across, I can’t remember the name of the man that he was baptized by John the Baptist and he was teaching and he was having people that were coming to followers and he was teaching, but Paul approached him and he was like, “No, you stopped. You heard from John the Baptist and then you just stopped and you didn’t know about Christ.”
[00:38:34] I mean he just stopped right there and it’s like, “Whoa! no hope.” A whole bunch of stuff has happened since then but he was stagnant. He was stuck at so he was misleading people based on the very limited information and things that he had. And so Paul was able to tell him the truth about Jesus Christ and even John the Baptist pointed to Christ. [00:38:55] He didn’t just stop there. I think that is so true. Don’t stop. Don’t stay where you are, even as a believer, don’t just, “okay. Yep. I already know about Jesus. I know this. I know that. I’m good. I’m good”. It’s like, “Whoa but you’re missing out on so much more.”
I think that when you look at relational health, sometimes we’re like, “Yep. I got the tools. I got the skill sets. I’m done. I’m good” but wait, you’re missing out on so much more just because you have these things here. Are you actually applying it? Are you continuing to grow in that? Education is so huge with anything but especially mental health.
I’ll ask people when they come in and said, “Okay, so you got this diagnosis. [00:39:42] What do you know about it?” I am sometimes surprised at some people like “I don’t know. This is what I was told.” And I was like, “okay, let’s explore.” or I will have a partner who says, “well, this is my wife struggles with anxiety.” And I’m like, “okay, well, what do you know?” And like, “no, that’s her thing” like, “I don’t need to educate myself about it. I live with it.”
I’m like, “No, you need to educate yourself as well.” And really that speaks volumes to your partner. If you were to say, “wow, okay, let me learn about this. Let me get in a support group with people who are married to somebody with bipolar or anxiety.” It builds a deeper support of like, “wow, you’re actually trying to understand me.” [00:40:30] And not just that, but you are accepting this part of me. You’re not just in this denial that this is going on. You’re actually accepting this and you are wanting to learn more about it, which is going to benefit the marriage itself.
Carrie: Right. Absolutely. I love that. So we’re kind of winding down towards the end. So I’ll ask you the question that gets asked of everyone on the show. So since it’s called Hope for Anxiety and OCD, I’d love for people to share a story of a time in their life where they received hope from God or another person.
Summer: It’s hard to narrow. I don’t wanna say narrow it down, but [00:41:17] when we actually stop in and give that gratitude and those praise. It’s just amazing how much God is in the detail of things. A lot of times when I think of the hope or just the faithfulness of God in my life. I have to look at my own marriage. I was single until 28. I got married at 29. I came from a very large family and always wanted many children. And of course the older I got, I could do the math in my head. “Okay, Lord, this isn’t like going to happen. Of course, that was before like people in their forties started having kids and stuff but there’s like, “okay, wait my large families is going to happen” but God was in the details of my husband and I knew each other from way back when, but just went our own separate ways but we reconnected. I inherited three amazing children in our marriage.
My deal breaker was I wanted a child. And so if my husband were going to get married, he would have to agree that we could have a child together. And he said, “okay” so again, Okay, Lord. I have three children and I want that camaraderie. I want them to grow up with younger sibling. And so my timing was shortly after, “let’s settle in to married life and blended family life,” but few years were going by and it’s like, “Okay, Lord, is this going to happen?” Just a lot of questions. My husband kinda gave up like, “okay, it’s not going to happen around him.” And it took us a few years. God knew again, being in the details and perfect timing. The bonding that I was worried about. The boys were in high school whenever we had our son and through college, one of the boys stayed home and commuted and the bonding was just amazing.
[00:43:25]It was just all of those fears and all of those concerns or those questions. It wasn’t my timing but the timing was just perfect. It wasn’t always my way, but God knew what he was doing and just being in the details. And so that to me was just the hope of a large family, the hope of the bonding and that unity among the family. [00:43:51] And God just blessed it. When those doubts are when fears or things come into play, whether you’re single or whether you’re in an empty marriage or divorced, and you still have that desire. I think that God is in the details and his timing is amazing. It’s not always our time where I think about big thing in my life where desire and hope and blessing come together. I would say it’s definitely my family unit.
Carrie: It’s amazing how God will give us those desires like for you it was for to have a large family and God totally filled that in a way that you couldn’t have imagined at that point in time like you were thinking that all of those children would be completely biologically yours and you ended up with a beautiful family picture and it’s amazing how God’s dreams are much better than things that we could dream on our own. And when we try to do it our ways or in our timing, it just never quite shakes out and we can become disappointed. I appreciate that story cause I do believe it’s hopeful and will be hopeful for many people listening.
Thank you so much for, for taking the time to be on the show and share your wisdom with us now.
Summer: Thank you for having me here. I appreciate that.
Summer and I have had lots of conversations off the air about reducing shame and stigma in the church in regards to mental illness. So it was an absolute treat to be able to have some of those conversations on the air to be able to share those with you all.
[00:45:42] I wanted to share some feedback that I received today regarding the podcast. Erica writes, “I enjoyed your first podcast about your life. It was so inspiring. It had it all. I laughed. I cried and I got goosebumps with your transformation.”
Thank you so much Erica for sharing that. I really appreciate it.
If you want to share what the podcast has meant for you, you can either write a review or you can go on hopeforanxietyandocd.com and reach me in the comments section. Thanks so much for listening.
Hope For Anxiety and OCD is a production of By The Well Counseling in Smyrna, Tennessee. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum and audio editing is completed by Benjamin Bynam.
Until next time. May you be comforted by God’s great love for you.