Stress Can Take Its Toll

We’ve talked a lot around here about the toll that stress takes on your body and your mind. That it can make your emotions raw and your head hurt.

But the effects reach farther than just yourself. It’s all too easy for situational or long-lasting stress to break down relationships as well.

Don’t let stress steal the joy and love and you feel with your partner. There are ways to protect not only yourself, but also your significant other, from the dangers of stress and the toll it can take on your life.

Identify Your Stress Triggers

When you identify and acknowledge your stress triggers, you start to regain control over your life.  Once you know your stress triggers, you can examine them one at a time and decide to:

Change yourself;

Change the situation;

Or, perceive the situation differently.

You’ll have individual stress triggers — like a challenging boss or financial concerns — as well as triggers that set you off as a couple.  For example, your partner is never on time, drives too fast, or looks at the computer while you’re talking to her.

Choose a quiet time when you’ll be free from distraction.  Sit down together and individually make a list of your top five stressors.  Then individually make a list of your top five relationship stressors.

When you’re done, share some or all of them with each other in an honest, caring, and authentic way.  Brainstorm ways you can help each other respond differently or change a situation that’s triggering stress.

Making modifications will take time.  So go easy.  Decide on one thing you want to change and just start there.  When you accomplish the first one, move on to the next.

This level of honest communication can be scary at first, but I think you’ll find it’s so worth it.

Be Honest with Yourself

You can’t be authentic with another human being if you aren’t already honest with yourself.  Often, we live in a state of reaction and don’t take time to look at our own feelings, wishes, and needs.  So much stress arises when we’re not in tune with and true to ourselves.

Take the time you need to get to know yourself.  This might involve journaling, drawing, meditation, walking in nature, talking with a good friend, or taking a course on your own.  Allow your partner time for self-reflection so she can really come to know her true self too.

Feeling like you have to hide your real feelings and wishes only creates distrust and unease and will eventually wear away your relationship.  Authenticity is the only true foundation for a healthy relationship.

Mini Check-Ins

Don’t be like trains passing at high speed.  Say a real “hello” to your partner every day.

Otherwise, unexpressed feelings and concerns tend to brew within and then pop out in unhealthy ways – like irritation, withdrawal, or insecurity.  It’s can be easy to pick up on the energy of the unspoken and unconsciously react in tense or unkind ways.  That can then spiral into more inter-personal distress.

So find your own best ways to ask your partner:

  • How are you doing?
  • How are you feeling?
  • How was your day?

Then listen.  It’s easier to be supportive when you know where your partner is at.

You don’t have to fix your partner’s problems. Listening itself can be a significant healing force.

Opening the door to communication with these gentle questions will let the steam out before stress and pressure builds to frightening proportions.
– via Live Bold and Bloom

Don’t Let Negativity In!

So much of protecting your relationship comes down to choosing positivity over negativity. By taking the few seconds to breath in and reset when something stressful happens, you can push away the negative assumptions and instead be positive and honest with your partner.

You both deserve the best version of each other, so taking the few minutes each day to invest in honesty, in transparency, and in fun with them, it will yield dividends!

1. Avoid making negative assumptions.

If something happens that you have no control over, don’t make things worse by assuming the worst. If someone loses their job it doesn’t help to conclude that you will also lose your home and everything you have worked for. Instead of focusing on the negative possibilities, sit down with your mate and discuss possible solutions. If you work together in a creative way you may be able to turn this challenge into an opportunity. Don’t let stress get the upper hand, this is the time to let your partnership shine.

2. Don’t be critical or assign blame.

The blame game is very destructive to a relationship and it never contributes to unity. The goal here is to draw closer as a couple, not to alienate your best friend and life partner. The same goes for being critical of one another, all that will do is divide the relationship. Let’s face it, sometimes bad things happen, that’s just the way life is. Looking at each challenge as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship bond will help you minimize the stress load and avoid the temptation to blame your mate.

3. Acknowledge your partner’s concerns.

If something goes wrong and we feel responsible, it is easy to turn defensive when our partner expresses their concerns. Rather that turning it into a confrontation by defending ourselves, we need to put our egos aside and acknowledge their concerns with an understanding heart. If we are truly partners then we are in it together. That means we probably have similar concerns that we need to work on in a spirit of cooperation.

4. Respond rather than react.

The difference between a response and a reaction has to do with the amount and type of emotion that’s involved. When we just react to bad news it is very likely that our reaction will also include a negative emotional component. If we choose to respond rather than react, our knee jerk reaction will be softened by our desire to maintain peace and unity in our relationship. A response defers additional stress and allows room for more positive emotions like compassion and understanding.
– via Advanced Life Skills

How are you protecting your relationship from stress?