Extreme stress in a relationship
The title may be misleading.
My girlfriend is taking a math class and she is radiating anxiety and stress from it. I have volunteered to help her with her math, which is usually fairly fine, but as soon as I begin to talk about it on some other level she freezes up, he shoulders get tense, and she starts to sweat, and just becomes a wreck. Crying isn’t uncommon, in fact its happened 3 times in a row when I’ve been with here. This morning she was driving erratically because she was so stressed about the day, and about possibly being late (we had about 20 minutes to drive 2 miles…).
My approach so far has been, relax, you’re making this a bigger deal than it is. Meditate, take breaks, just be calm. This isn’t the end of the world. Usually what happens is she’ll progressively get madder and madder until she’s as stiff as a board, ready to explode in anxiety, and I have to leave because it’s just too ridiculous, I even cried one time because she gives off the worst vibes.
I try to explain to her as well how interesting aspects of mathematics are, and she shoots them down as if they are stupid and there is no possible way she’ll ever find them interesting, yet only a month before I spoke about the same exact concepts and she was fascinated. She becomes pissed, and she wants to stay pissed.
The worst part is when I recommend meditation, she gets even more pissed off, discrediting it like it’s some bullshit, and doesn’t work “for her”.
I need some help guys and girls.
This is getting way over my head. I’ve never had a silent car ride with her before until this morning. Its like shes pissed at me for trying to explain her ways of over coming this. I tell her its just a perspective and she says “no its not.”
Its really affecting me and I don’t know how else I can go about this. I’ve never had a psychological situation where I’ve literally had no idea how to go about it.
@aliwine, yeah I told her to go do math today for a couple hours and she said
“Yeah.. yeah. No. No wait fuck that I’m not devoting my day to math.”
I’m also thinking about just telling her I’m not going to be around her when she’s literally radiating heat from stress and negativity.
There is some inner discomfort/feeling she is projecting outward, probably low self-esteem that is enlarged by a math frame of reference. As long as she doesn’t want the feel through the anxiety into the sadness/shame/loneliness etc, she will make sure to reject everything that forces her into that direction, like doing math with someone she normally would feel comfortable with and/or meditation. These are physical symptons that can only be ‘negated’ through by acceptance (meditation, relaxing, communication) or bodily tension that overrides.
These are often heavy emotional burdens that constitute many facets of a person, and so there is no quick solution. What she needs most now is not the push into this uncomfort, but an acknowledgement that she is fine and is understood. It’s not about the math, it’s about he lens through which she sees math.
Give her some comfort :)
@ijesuschrist, at this point, just fulfill your role as the partner and keep positive, insuring that you are not trying to do anything but support her and that if she wants you would help her find some other outlet for outsourcing this aggression that she feels more comfortable with. If you try to undertake the responsibility you will have your heart too much on your sleeve as a result.
Just try not to place distance from anything except the subject. At this point, it seems like it is getting hard to not try to push from her a little (the emotion you have felt describes that). Like @aliwine said, maybe a tutor would work or perhaps a study group were she feels more in a ‘group of ones peers.’ She might be having trouble connecting with you because she feels like she isn’t on your level or you don’t ‘get it,’ but finding a nice group of people who are also getting through could be the healthy support she needs.
I know you want to be able to fix it all, as any good partner would want to do whatever they could to better their mate, but sometimes recognizing that your role lies in helping guide her to the right people/mentality externally, then you are still satisfying your partner obligation!
Alicia is right. At a certain point, how much more can you really say or do? Clearly this is a huge stress factor on her and she has a very hard time dealing with it. It’s one of those situations where the person is so caught up in the problem that they immerse themselves in it and panic takes over where logic should be. You’re right, though, it is purely perspective. At the time being it’s probably hard for her to try and rationalize with the solutions you gave her because she simply does not see it like that given the current situation because how negatively her mood is affected by the work due. To be real, it’s a matter of owning up to the responsbilities and being brave enough to overcome it. That is way easier said than done, though, of course. The way I see it…once somebody has a problem that is significant enough to require so much effort out of another person, all it means is that the person with the problem simply needs to suck it up and do whatever he/she can to solve it. The support is there but you need to take those steps yourself, you know?
@martijn, Right. I’ve said that word for word, and after some “No!” ‘s she slowly comes to.
I guess I’ll just continue to try to comfort her.
@lytning91, right, she’s expressed she feels stupid when I explain math to her. I’ve explained to her that I am completely empathizing with her, and that I’m not judging her ability to understand math at all, in fact I fully feel with her the difficulty of learning math. That helped, and I hope she feels less stressed when I teach her now, as I think this was a problem – she wouldn’t understand something, and then worry that I was judging her because she didn’t understand it, but its not the case.
I think I just need to tell her I’m supporting her, and that I’m trying to learn what the best method is to help her – not that I am somehow disappointed in her for her this lack of math experience.
Thanks guys. I was starting to get too negative for a minute there. Keep helping me :)
Just assure her math isn’t for everyone, like myself. When I try to do math it’s like trying to read Greek. There are all sorts of different learners in the world and those that are “good” at math tend to be a little more masculine, draw finer lines and conclusions in life and also are usually more musically inclined. Where as someone who is “not good” at math tends to be a little more sensitive, creative and more of a people person. That being said a study group or tutor who she doesn’t have a close relationship with are her best bets.
@ijesuschrist, My boyfriend is the same way, haha. But I assure you if I could make myself understand math I would. Perhaps I am just dyslexic when it comes to numbers- if that is possible, but math is a skill some people are just “born” to be better at. Just like creative writing, if an awful writer takes a creative writing class they aren’t going to become H.G Wells- they will just know how to use bigger words and a nice sentence format.
@aliwine, If a bad writer was inspired by H.G. Wells, then I believe it is possible.
You learned the english language, which is a series of symbols that follow rules, and each symbol stands for something.
Now you’re saying we change the rules, and the symbols and it’s completely different.
When you said its like “Greek to me” that is the exact point! Math is a new language. It takes a lot of practice, and for women, for whatever reason, there seems to be a lack of motivation – NOT ability to understand. (I think the lack of motivation is society-driven, mostly).
How old were you when you first heard boys are better at math?
You could recommend she try out the KhanAcademy math videos (it’s all free), everything from basic arithmetic to calculus and beyond. The guy who teaches math (also the founder of the site) is an amazing teacher IMO.
As someone who up to last week had relegated myself to being borderline retarded when it came to math (“basic” math and the remedial classes I would have had to take are the reason I quit college after 1 day- now I’m glad I didn’t continue it though), I can personally vouch for that site. I had been totally lost with math since the fourth grade (about 10 years old here in the US, I am 29 now), spent last week working up almost from the beginning of the khanacademy videos and can now do up to long division (something I NEVER understood before) pretty proficiently already (multiplication of huge numbers, addition and subtraction are just easy compared to division for me) and plan to be into algebra by July 1, pre-cal or calculus by a year from now.
Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can, I couldn’t even remember how to properly carry/borrow numbers for the absolutely basic addition/subtraction stuff a little over a week ago.
Send her the link to http://www.khanacademy.org, maybe it will help her as well.
@ijesuschrist, I didn’t say boys were better but those that are good at it tend to be a little more “masculine”- however you are right about it being a totally different language.
I think that perhaps teaching math at an earlier age would benefit the learning process. I love algebra, I find that easy. However ask me about triangles and stuff and my brain shuts off.
@aliwine, so let me ask you this;
If you suddenly (and please empathize here) became very interested in architecture, or aerospace engineering, or something that really, really interested you, but you had to learn trigonometry and triangles, would your brain still shut off?
I might ought to add that I empathize with your girlfriend, I remember math homework from the time I was 10 til high school seriously sending me into screaming rages at times because it just *would not click*. I’d finally “get it” briefly for one problem only to forget it ALL on the next one and just go berserk.
I’ve realized after using the khanacademy that for most of this stuff, I was either never taught or never able to grasp WHY you did whatever you did, where most other students seemed fine to just memorize formulas and go from there even if they had no idea why it worked. Sal, the math teacher at khanacademy always makes sure to explain this so a lot that seemed like magic or something before simply clicked into place for me almost instantly.
@ijesuschrist, Not if I was interested, but I am not. I like to study the brain and emotions much more. If I was interested there would be a reward feeling after completing a problem, however I don’t have that feeling. If your girlfriend were to go to a study group because of her *likely* (I don’t know because I don’t know her) brain set would cause a psudo reward feeling by being a part of a group and getting a feeling of togetherness for the reward. If she is really interested in math and needs it for a future career then she needs to buckle down and find another way to make it rewarding for her. Because she can’t always rely on having someone else to work with.