How can our relationships flourish in this era of non-stop stress? Stress can kill your joy, optimism, motivation and health. No wonder it can cause relationship problems too!
Symptoms of chronic stress include addiction, angry outbursts, overeating, disturbed sleep, crying, headaches, anxiety and depression. And there are more. None of these make for an intimate relationship, do they? It’s difficult to foster a loving ambiance when you’re wound-up and ready to burst or worn down to the bones.
Worldwide divorce rates are soaring, ranging between 39% and 68% in countries with the highest number of final separations. There’s no question that stress is a factor in pulling couples apart.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Although stress will always be a factor in our lives, your relationship doesn’t have to be its next victim. As a couple, you can learn how to manage stress together. Your relationship will grow more relaxing, empathetic, and enduring when you learn to say “no” to stress as a team.
If you don’t want difficult relationship problems, try these seven ways to protect your love from stress:
1. 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 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Regular Planning Sessions
Hold regular sessions to plan out your life together. These are valuable times to confer with each other. You can discuss your personal and collective visions – the big picture – as well as all the practical things that need to be coordinated from house repairs to phone calls to shopping lists.
Schedule a planning session at least once a month, but twice a month is even better. Regular planning sessions will keep you on the same page, shield you from unexpected surprises, and ensure that resentments don’t build up.
Too often we focus on what we don’t like in our relationship instead of celebrating all the goodness that’s there. It’s easy to get nit-picky and bicker about the small things, isn’t it?
Gratitude, on the other hand, is a powerful way to keep your relationship steady and bright. Research has shown that cultivating gratitude can lead to greater happiness, more optimism, a reduction in physical symptoms, and lower levels of depression and stress.
Don’t let a day go by without expressing appreciation to your partner. Let her know how much you enjoy being together and express gratitude for all the small things that often go unnoticed. Try out these phrases to get started.
“I appreciate you.”
“I’m so grateful we’re together.”
“Thank you for doing the dishes.”
“Thank you for getting the car fixed.”
Expressing your gratitude is a simple, but exceptionally powerful way to help each other feel deeply accepted, which itself alleviates the stress of uncertainty.
6. Laugh Together
Laughter is a fun and effective way to reduce stress. A good laugh has the added benefits of improving your physical and mental health as well. Research shows extended periods of laughter can:
Reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine.
Increase blood flow to the heart.
Boost your immune system.
Strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles.
Deliver more oxygen to your tissues.
Relax your muscles.
Improve your mood and outlook.
Find ways to laugh together often and you’ll safeguard your relationship from stress.
7. Invoke the Relaxation Response Together
The relaxation response is the physiological antidote to the stress response discovered by Dr. Herbert Benson more than 30 years ago. According to Benson, you can invoke the relaxation response through the repetition of a sound, phrase, or movement while setting aside intruding thoughts by returning to the practice at hand.
Here are some easy ways you can invoke the relaxation response:
Abdominal (belly) breathing
Progressive muscle relaxation
Choose one of these stress-busting activities, and practice it together.
Stress is a natural and needed physiological response when you’re in danger. But, given the craziness of modern life, many people have their stress response turned on far too much. Chronic stress can contribute to a host of undesirable disorders from heart problems to immune-related dysfunction to depression and anxiety. And, of course, a frazzled relationship.
If stress is starting to get to you, remember you’re not alone! Thousands of people are grappling with this very same challenge. Reach out to your partner and decide to work together to protect your relationship and yourselves from the negative effects of stress.
What’s one step you can take today to protect your relationship from stress? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Love may not always be the cutesy flowers, poems and chocolate,
knight in shining armor kind of thing, but it's a part of life for a reason.
Sure, there are ups and downs, but aren't there with anything?
No one ever said love was easy, but hey, NOTHING in life comes easy.
If it did, life would be pretty dang boring if you ask me.
Love is all about honesty, communication, and being with someone
who brings out the bestpossible you. It's about falling in love with you
best friend ... finding someone who makes you smile when you've had
a terrible day. Falling head over heels, obsessively in love with someone
who lifts you up when you're SO far down.
It’s easy to forget, when times get rough in your relationship, what those
PASSIONATE, madly-in-love, hot-and-heavy romantic times can be like.
But that’s why we have quotes like these. To spark that flame inside of us —
the one that remembers every moment when our love was on fire.
Take it from me — don't let anything get in the way of true love. But, also
know which love is worth fighting for. And that you're fighting for it for the
right reasons. It's worth the hurdles if it's for the right person, and it tends
to become pretty clear when a relationship has run its course.
As cheesy as it sounds, listening to your heart is actually the best way to
find out how you really feel. Hopefully these quotes on love will help you
figure it out, and most of all, remind you of what it was like to fall fully, madly,
DEEPLY into love.
There's nothing hotter than being the match to spark your romance.
"He was a boy who loved to play with fire and she was his perfect match."
Extraordinary hearts call for extraordinary love.
"Unless it's mad passionate extraordinary love it is a waste of time.
There are too many mediocre things in life. Love should not be one of them."
Everything is better with a little love.
PHOTO: LESSONS LEARNED IN LIFE
"I love my eyes when you look into them. I love my name when you say it.
I love my heart when you touch it. I love my life when you are in it."
When your mind can't stop running circles about someone.
"I have completely fallen for you. Everything you do, everything you say,
everything you are. You're my first thought in the morning, you're my last
thought before I fall asleep, and you're almost every thought in between."
Time, age, length are all but a number when it comes to love.
PHOTO: LOVE QUOTES
"You can be in a relationship for two years and feel nothing; you can
be in a relationship for two months and feel everything. Time is not
a measure of quality; of infatuation, or of love."
Because easy is boring anyway.
"You don't get to choose, you just fall in love and you get this person
who is all wrong and all right at the same time. And you know you love
them so much except sometimes they drive you completely insane —
no one can explain it. And the reason it's so confusing is because it's love,
and if love didn't have challenges, what would be the point?"
Being normal will forever be overrated.
"We are all a little weird and, life's a little weird, and when we find someone
whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in
mutual weirdness and call it love."
— Dr. Seuss
Love in All it's Naked Glory.
"I think I fall in love a little bit with anyone who shows me their soul.
This world is so guarded and fearful. I appreciate rawness so much."
It's all in the little things.
PHOTO: THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF GIVING
"I want to hold your hand, laugh at your jokes, walk by your side, snuggle
on the couch, look into your eyes, talk about whatever, and kiss your lips
every single day."
It's always in the eyes.
"When; a girl is in love, you can see it in her smile. When; a guy is in love,
you can see it in his eyes."
Just a few of the greatest things in the world.
PHOTO: ULTIMATE DATING SYSTEM
"He was Christmas morning, crimson fireworks, and birthday wishes."
— Raquel Franco
And don't you forget it!
"May the way I look at you, the way I speak with you, and the way I treat
you, reflect the truth that...I have loved you since forever."
— Dr. Steve Maraboli
The right love will always be the best love..
"Don't fall in love with someone who says the right things. Fall in love with
someone who does the right things."
Seeing is believing, make them prove it!
"Don't say you love me unless you really mean it, because I might do
something crazy like believe it."
There's nothing like being wrapped up in the one you love.
"That's what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and
love you when you're not so lovable."
— Deb Caletti
You have to appreciate the simple things in love.
"Have you ever just looked at someone and thought, 'I really love you.'
They're just talking or humming or watching a movie or reading a book
or laughing or something, and there's something about them in that moment
that makes you think, 'I just really love you.'"
Nothing like having all the radios tuned into your love life.
"And suddenly all the love songs were about you.."
When you just know you're soulmates.
PHOTO: LOVE TIPS
"If I could have anyone in the world, it would still be you."
Loving from the inside out.
PHOTO: GOOD LIFE QUOTES
"I fell in love with you. Not for how you look, just for who you are
(although you look pretty great too)."
Listening to your heart really pays off.
PHOTO: THE WOW STYLE
"It all comes down to the last person you think of at night. That's where
your heart is."
It's just like riding a bike!
PHOTO: HUB PAGES
"I love you the same way I learned how to ride a bike; scared but reckless."
— Rudy Francisco
Sounds obsessive, but so true.
"Love's when...you miss him even before he leaves, when you could listen
to him talk all night and never get tired of hearing his voice when just the
sound of his name sends chills down your spine and you see his smile the
second you close your eyes."
I will forever believe in the click.
"Sometimes when you meet someone you just click. I don't believe in love
at first sight, but I sure believe in the click."
Don't rush love. It's worth the wait.
PHOTO: QUOTES WORDS
"A good relationship is when two people accept each other's past,
support each other's present, and love each other enough to encourage
each other's future. So don't rush love. Find a partner who encourages
you to grow, who won't cling to you, who will let you go out into the world,
and trust that you will come back. This is what true love is all about."