There are three basic ways of how people in marriage cope during the times of stress while not receiving support from their partner. Spouses turn to these strategies in hopes of being able to manage the stress that they feel.
This coping strategy is based on trying to relate to the spouse in a way that lacks confidence. A partner dealing with stress would seek connection and assurance, but do it in a way that comes off as anxious, needy or dependent.
Partners who use this strategy are typically having a lot of negative thoughts and emotions. If this is how your partner perceives you when you are seeking connection, it is very likely that deep down you have a fear of rejection. As a result, you are anxiously seeking reassurance and are coming off as needy. In this scenario, you are also likely to idolize your partner or at least see him or her in a very positive way, as someone, whose opinion, behavior and care ultimately matter. Often, this partner will get frustrated because it would feel to him or her that no matter how much attention he or she is giving, it is not making a difference and whatever he or she does, the anxiety is still there. This is why if you recognize yourself in this pattern, you need to go deeper than just deal with anxiety.
Partners who apply avoidance often tend to minimize their feelings and emotions about their spouses. They are trying to find a way to turn off the need to connect and share with the partner. Common patterns include avoiding being close physically and saying no to intimacy. A partner in stress that chooses avoidance strategy will often try to suppress his or her thoughts and emotions. If that’s what you do, you probably grew up valuing self-reliance and independence. You view them as virtues and have a somewhat negative opinion about other people. You may be telling yourself that being close with others can make you uncomfortable and that you do not have to share your personal needs and concerns with your spouse. You also may believe that if you try and connect with your partner, things will get worse than they currently are.
Mixed coping strategy in the times of anxiety consists of combining avoidance and anxiety. Spouses that use mixed strategy often have fears about their relationship and its future but also struggle to share their feelings and become intimate with their partners emotionally. The fear of rejection leads to avoidance during which they tell themselves that at least their relationship is not getting worse. Spouses that choose this approach often become quite passive when it comes to their marriages. They sacrifice their own needs thinking that it’s the price they have to pay in order not to get rejected, not understanding that this strategy can’t work for them in the long run.
These strategies are psychological mechanisms that people choose to apply and use. They are not mental or psychological problems. People start using these strategies because they can’t get what they feel they need to get from their partner in a marriage.