How to respond in the best possible way to my spouse’s feelings

My wife will often share her feelings of the moment with me. Most of the time, I have a hard time giving her what she is looking for. For example – today she said that she is feeling anxious. She explained that she has to drive over an hour away to have my son take a driving test, and isn’t sure he is going to pass the driving exam. She has ulcerative colitis, so long trips in the car scare her, as she may not be able to make it on time for the appointment, and therefore disappoint our son by missing that appointment. She had an experience in which she had such a bad attack, that we had to stop on the side of the road so she could release her bowels into the woods.

I don’t want to be her therapist, or life coach, just an understanding husband. I don’t want to be Mr. Fix It, or Mars to her Venus. Oftentimes, I am tempted to go into life coach mode, or therapist mode, and usually that backfires, unless she is in a better state of mind or asks for that intervention.

So whether or not it is depression, anxiety, anger, or any other negative emotion, I feel unequipped to handle it, even though I deal with it with my patients every day as an internal medicine doctor, and feel equipped and ready in those situations. How do I turn my doctor, budding life coach part of my brain off, and just be there for my wife in her time of need?

Thanks for your time.