This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

March 13, 2022

You, Your Partner and Mental Health

When “I” is replaced with “We”, illness becomes wellness.” Shannon Alder

Half of all adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime (Psychology Today 2019 — pre-pandemic data!). That means that it is highly likely that you or your partner with experience a significant mental health crisis at some point in your relationship. To highlight the seriousness of current concern, a study done by the Pew Research Center in February 2021 showed that levels of mental distress resulting in anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, loneliness, and physical illness has increased with 21% of the population experiencing elevated levels of distress, 24% mild levels, and 54% low levels on a weekly basis. Both research and practical experience tell us that mental distress can cause a person to have decreased quality of life, decreased productivity (both at work and in the bedroom), and even lead up to impaired physical health. So how do you are you partner work together to mitigate the risk or impact of mental distress?

Helpful Tips for Partners

  1. Knowledge is power. Know the signs and symptoms of mental distress (symptoms mentioned above). Get educated together. Knowing that there is a mental health issue to be addressed, is the first part of the solution. This helps you gain a better understanding of what mental distress looks like, and helps you ascertain how the symptoms manifest in your marriage or partnership. Low level mental distress is a function of living, it is often the first reaction to navigating change. Normal and noncontinuous stress is good it provides energy for rise to the challenge. Abnormal stressors cause a large degree of uncertainty and may be life threatening. Both are dealt with through education. Typical relationship stressors are finances, work stress brought home, caring for family members, infidelity, inability to achieve orgasm/sexual boredom, and of course the external environment.

2. Make mental health a part of your self-care practice. Once educated, support each other in practicing mental balancing skills. Many of the same practices that benefit physical health also enhance mental health, such as healthy diet for your body type, exercise, hydration, and consistent and sufficient sleep. To calm the nerves, use meditation and deep breath work. Both turn off the fight or flight response, put you into rest, and relax mode. Include calming herbal teas or supplements in your diet such as chamomile or lavender teas. Eat more green leafy vegetables, which are great for powering your brain. Watch less of the news! Yes, do stay informed but ration it because you do not want to feed fear. Consistently listening to traumatic information causes more trauma and fear.

3. Make self-care a joint and playful journey. By taking diligent care of your physical and mental health, you are better equipped to support each other (and your family). Beneficial acts of self-care include doing hobbies and activities you enjoy. Play is important to mental balance and is an antidote to stress. Smiles and laughter send the positive message to the brain that the threat is gone. It can go into rest and relax mode.

4. Have open and honest communication. Do not assume you know what the other person is thinking. Wars are first started in the mind! Build up your communication skills to be able to have the hard conversations around what emotionally impacts your needs, and concerns. Yet be careful not to use your partner as a therapist, this can become very taxing on the relationship.

5. Seek professional help. If you see that you cannot manage mitigating mental distress yourself, use whatever resources are relevant to you and within your means. Both couples counseling and individual counseling may be what works.

6. Have realistic relationship expectations with known boundaries (which become known through communication!). Neither of you should violate your boundaries to maintain the relationship. Compromise allows both parties to feel safe and supported so that the relationship can grow. If you cannot find balance, recognize that you have an unhealthy relationship and agree to part ways amicably.

7. Know what triggers your partner and avoid it. We all have that person, place or thing that drains our emotional, physical, and spiritual energy. Once you have been with a partner long enough, you know what their triggers are, and you can expect an emotional reaction. From a physiological perspective, triggers send our brains neural network into stress mode — fight, flight, or freeze. Do not push your partner’s triggers. Triggers are contagious. The likely response is to escalate and push your triggers right back at you. Know that triggers point to areas where we need to grow. There is always a soft and acceptable approach that helps to grow past the pain of triggers. Bring a gentle touch. Remember, you catch more flies with honey that vinegar!

8. Know your partner’s love language. If you want to make your partner feel safe and loved in a relationship, a keyway is to speak their love language. This is the manner that they FEEL most loved, and feelings are the framework for experience. Feelings dictate our reactions when they are are not observed and processed before responding. There are five love languages: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, and physical touch. If your partner feels nourished by quality time spent together, know that buying them gifts instead is going to cause them some level of emotional stress. Learn to speak each other’s language.

Become invested in the mental balance of your relationship, it will pay off in loving interest that will continue to appreciate. Remember the goal is not perfection, it is the growth and expansion of your loving relationship. My “Your Balance Tool Kit” gives more tips on how to stay mentally balanced together, and her book is a journey into making mental balance a lifestyle that enhances the experience of a joyful life.

Raiysa Nazaire is an author and mental health advocate.  Find out more about her at

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Raiysa Nazaire  |  Contribution: 2,170