There’s a big difference between dealing with stress at work and dealing with stress in your love life. Learning how to deal with stress in your relationship will help you easily and effectively cope with stress in other parts of your life.
“Dealing with it is the operative word. I found myself at seven years not battling it. Not struggling with it. Not suffering from it. Not breaking under the burden of it, but dealing with it.” – Michael J. Fox referring to his Parkinson’s Disease, in an interview with Barbara Walters.
Have you been ignoring or avoiding the stress in your relationship? You need to face it, and find ways to stop battling, struggling, suffering, and breaking because of it. You need to find healthy ways to deal with stress in your relationship – and sometimes the best way is to get outside help. Not always, but it’s something to consider (I’m working on my MSW with a focus on counseling, so I’m biased ).
Tips for Dealing With Stress in Your Relationship
Try to determine the source of your relationship stress. The source of stress is NOT the external events that everyday life brings (everything from running out of soy milk to coping with infertility). The real source of relationship stress is how you respond to life’s everyday events. For instance, I tend to withdraw from my husband when I feel hurt or disappointed. I pull away emotionally and physically. This causes stress in our relationship; giving him the cold shoulder does not help us communicate or build a better marriage! I’ve learned that we always hurt each other in big and little ways. Not on purpose, but such is the nature of living with someone you love. To learn how to deal with stress in your relationship, you need to accept that stress will always be present.
If you have money problems (like most of us do), read How to Decrease Financial Stress for Couples.
Think about how you deal with stress. Do you pull away from your partner when you’re stressed at home or work, like I do? Maybe you tend to explode in anger, or turn to addictive behavior (overeating, gambling, drinking, drugging it up). You learned how to deal with stress in your relationship by watching your family as you grew up. Is your coping strategy working for or against you? Learn how to deal with stress in healthier, more productive ways. If you need tips, ask me below – I’ll see what I can dig up!
Invest time and energy in your relationship. When you’re stressed, the last thing you want to do is move forward into it. Our natural tendency is to avoid stress, not deal with it. But it’s the most important thing to do! You need to build a strong, healthy, loving foundation at home so you can be happy and effective in the other parts of your life. Don’t give up –keep working towards a healthy, strong relationship.
Be gentle with yourself – and with your partner. I’m very hard on myself, and also very hard on the people I love most…like my husband. I’m learning that the more gently and lovingly I treat myself – the more I accept myself – the better I treat my husband. And when I treat my husband with love and respect, my stress level goes way down. How gentle and loving are you with yourself? With your partner?
Find ways to have fun together! When you play with your partner, your bond gets stronger. When we’re stressed, the first thing that gets booted is fun, laughter, and light-heartedness. I’m not a big fan of board games, but I wrote 10 Fun Games for Couples to help decrease stress in relationships. Personally, I’d rather go on an adventure – even a day hike – than play board games. But, different people de-stress in different ways, right?
Allow your partner deal with stress in his own way. One of the best tips on how to deal with stress in your relationship is to give your partner space to de-stress in the way that makes the most sense to him. Me, I love yoga and hiking with my dogs and being alone and writing. Those activities help me deal with stress in my marriage, and in my life in general. My husband deals with stress in different ways – and that is totally cool! If we accept our partners for who they are, we will feel less stressed in our relationships.
Learn how stress affects your body. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers describes not only what stress does to you physiologically, but also in your relationships. Trust me: learning the effects of stress will give you the motivation you need to keep dealing with stress in your relationship!
Knowing how to deal with stress in your relationship is key to staying together and being happy. So is learning how to love your partner but still let him do things his own way. Read How to Let Go of Someone You Love for tips (because letting go isn’t just for breakups! It’s about letting people be who they are).