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Topic: Arachnophobia is destroying our relationship.

7 posts, 0 answered
  1. Themikanic
    Themikanic avatar
    0 posts
    28 December 2019

    Hi Newbie here.

    My partner of 4 months is on a student visa from Brazil and living with me in regional Victoria. Our relationship is/was great. I'm 64 he is 33, we have many common interests and we are both active and we'll have to be after Christmas but I digress.

    Cris is articulate, intelligent and thoughtful and even cooks meals for us whilst searching for a job, but I'm mindful it's a bit difficult at this time of the year. I'm currently supporting him as his meagre savings have been spent.
    Cris told me about his extreme 'fear of spiders' which to me seems totally illogical. He believes they think of devious ways to get into the house and if/when they do every few weeks, it's pandemonium here. Cris loses all concept of what's logical and he believes the spiders will go out of their way to bite him and even kill him.

    He breaks into sweats if he encounters one and yells, screams, jumps up and down and becomes totally irrational. He wants me to kill the spider which I refuse to do, however I'm happy to take it outside, which isn't good enough as it can get back in again which compounds his phobia to an even higher level of agitation.

    Last night at a total loss of what to do and not being used to his screaming and yelling I just left him to deal with the spider and it was dispatched with seemingly half a can of fly-spray and I had to clean up all this white fly-spray foam off the carpet after he locked himself in his room, which coincidentally is totally cut off from the remainder of the house with a draught stopper to seal the bottom of the door against the spiders and insulation tape between the door jamb and the door just to make sure they cannot access his room at night. Apparently vinegar is meant to be a deterrent and this is sprayed on the floor most evenings just in case.

    There are three things that have arisen since last night.

    1. He doesn't think I love him any more because I care more about the spiders and the stained carpet than I care about him...I do not and I love him immensely, do what I can for him and don't want to lose him!

    2. The Summer brings open doors for fresh air and the chance of another spider entering the house is a distinct possibility, though I definitely haven't mentioned this to him.

    3. After last night, though we both love each other and have discussed marriage in a few months, he genuinely thinks I no longer care for him and he will move to Melbourne as soon as he is financially able to.

    Please forgive my long post.
    Mike.

  2. Croix
    Community Champion
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    Croix avatar
    1339 posts
    29 December 2019 in reply to Themikanic

    Dear Mike~

    Welcome here to the forum, it is a most perplexing problem, and sounds like an irrational extreme fear of spiders has spilled over into an irrational attitude towards you. Very upsetting indeed, leaving you wondering how the relationship will survive.

    I guess there are several problems to try to deal with.

    The first and most obvious is Cris' very great fear of spiders, something that is making a huge impact on his life, and and indirectly on yours.

    May I suggest a two pronged approach? Just for the moment sacrifice the spiders, as you did that last time, but dispatch them humanely in a way that Cris knows you are going against your principals, but are doing so for his sake

    At the same time encourage him to seek medical help -a deal if you like. There getting a GP to refer him to a a psychologist or clinic that can treat this excessive fear, something that can be successful, but might take a while.

    This can be a pact between you, your putting aside your feelings for living creatures provided he does his bit and earnestly seeks help -and sticks with it. Such therapy is not onerous or frightening once it is explained by a professional, quite the reverse. You are not asking him to do anything stressful.

    It is fair to say that many have such a fear, though to a lesser extent, also that Cris may have encountered perilous situations in his home country that have made the fear worse.

    Your post is not long, it is clear and sets out the problem well. Having someone to love, and being loved in return is infinitely precious, and worth effort from both of you.

    I'd be grateful if you came back and said what you thought.

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  3. geoff
    Life Member
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    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    3399 posts
    29 December 2019 in reply to Themikanic

    Hello Mike, welcome to the forums and thanks for posting your comment, and phobias are an extreme fear of or aversion to something and spiders is one of them, not that that makes the situation any easier because it doesn't.

    A counsellor can help your partner with a program called desensitisation, which aims to remove the phobia by slowly, and only as comfortable as he is, that diminishes his fear after exposing him to have the spiders come from a distance to him actually not being afraid.

    If can copy and paste this 'https://www.simplypsychology.org › Systematic-Desensitisation' it will explain it much better.

    Hope this helps you.

    Geoff.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Themikanic
    Themikanic avatar
    0 posts
    2 January 2020 in reply to geoff

    Thanks for both replies. I also telephoned the Beyond Blue telephone line and the kind lady there suggested a psychologist for Cris' phobia, which I'm happy to fund if that's the direction we end up going.

    I've also spoken to him about it and his comments are that he has done a lot of research about the phobia and he probably has to face looking at spider images to try to overcome his phobia. However he cannot stomach that idea and the other suggestion by the helpline was to catch the spider and take it far away in the car...a few Km etc and let it go. I thought this was a good idea however when I mentioned this suggestion he didn't like the idea of sitting or travelling in the car again because a spider had been in there.

    The fact that it would have been in a jar with a fixed lid appeared to not calm his fears. I'm not adverse to despatching the spider to spider heaven for the sake of peace and to try to convince Cris through my actions that I care more for him than the spiders.

    Though he acknowledges his phobia, he seems to consider the phobia to be part of his life and I must support him...which I do and we had a lengthy discussion about his being alone when a spider appears in the house, which it may well do sooner or later because I'm at work in the City and until he gets a job, he is at home and alone during the day.

    He also acknowledges his growing anxiety and depression due to not being able to secure a job since he arrived here a few months ago. I explained that he should be able to pick up some work in a few weeks after the dust from Christmas has settled and he is really pinning his hopes on this. I feel I have to reinforce the comment here that he is normally an articulate and intelligent person, except for this phobia and a bit of depression lately. Again thanks for your comments thus far.

    Mike.

  5. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    1339 posts
    4 January 2020 in reply to Themikanic

    Dear Mike~

    Thanks for coming back and explaining more. It can be hard to understand the all-pervasive fear of an object or situation, something one might think totally irrational. I'm afraid for a long time I was frightened of my mailbox, and it took a long time and inventive techniques to successfully overcome this.

    As an example one might think the lidded jar would be enough in the car - unfortunately not the case as it is the idea, not the logic that can rule.

    I think Cris is under a misapprehension with desensitization. He may well imagine it starts straight off by looking at pictures of spiders or imagining them, this does not have to be the case. A skilled clinician will find alternative introductory approaches that gradually ease the client into a mental place where they, always being in control, can themselves progress matters.

    With employment, while Cris may not have anything at the moment I'd imagine having a sort of half-way house and doing some volunteering work could be a temporary answer. Not only is one conscious of doing good and contributing to society, but one has structure in one's life and but one's presence and work is valued.

    Sometimes it leads on directly to employment, and even if not looks excellent on a CV and can be a source of current references.

    Do you think Cris might consider this?

    Croix

  6. Themikanic
    Themikanic avatar
    0 posts
    7 January 2020 in reply to Croix

    Hi Croix, thanks for your assistance so far.

    I volunteer in my community through a few community groups and Cris has picked up on this and helps out at our local railway station garden where my group meets every few weeks. He realises the value in this and just yesterday he received a phone call from one of the people he spoke to regarding an application for a part time job as he is only allowed to work 20 hours a week on a student visa.

    My feeling is he may have just started to turn the corner with his mental health issues...such as they are, apart from the arachnophobia and assuming he starts work soon, I'm hoping the change of his perspective on life may assist in all kinds of ways, notwithstanding that arachnophobia is not something that will be overcome necessarily by just starting a job.

    I'll keep my fingers crossed and see how this new chapter in his life goes...hopefully positively over the next few weeks and months.

    Mike.

  7. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    1339 posts
    7 January 2020 in reply to Themikanic

    Dear Mike~

    That is good news and I hope Cris gets that part time job. Even just the volunteering is of benefit.

    Either or both can reduce anxiety and stress, as I have found. It may well be that the fear of spiders is either linked to general mental well-being, or perhaps an unfortunate event earlier in life. May I suggest you continue to encourage Cris to seek help in that area. Life with such a phobia becomes very complicated and can be quite unpleasant.

    Croix

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