Are you feeling stressed about your marriage? Here are some tips on how to deal with marriage stress so you can feel happier and more relaxed.
How to deal with stress in marriage? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to deal with marriage stress will vary depending on the couple’s individual situation and personalities. However, some tips on how to deal with marriage stress may include communicating openly with each other about any concerns, setting aside time each week to connect with each other, and seeking professional help if needed.
The Danger of Stress in Marriage
Stress in marriage can often lead to serious problems and even divorce. When couples are under a lot of stress, they may begin to fight more often, have difficulty communicating, and may even start to neglect their relationship. This can eventually lead to the couple feeling disconnected and unhappy, which can put a strain on the marriage.
It’s important to try to reduce the amount of stress in your marriage, and to find ways to cope with it when it does happen. If you and your partner are constantly arguing, it may be time to seek counseling or therapy to help you both learn how to communicate better.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, make sure to take some time for yourself to relax and de-stress. Marriage is a lot of work, but it’s important to remember that it’s also supposed to be enjoyable. Find ways to reduce stress in your marriage so that you can both enjoy your relationship more.
6 Dangers Of A Stressful Relationship
- Stress can lead to negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression, which can then lead to conflict in your marriage.
- Stress can cause physical problems such as headaches, insomnia, and stomach problems, which can make it difficult to enjoy your marriage.
- Stress can lead to financial problems if you’re not careful about how you manage your money.
- Stress can cause you to neglect your relationship with your spouse, which can lead to tension and resentment.
- Stress can make it difficult to communicate effectively with your spouse, which can make it difficult to resolve conflicts.
- Stress can make you more likely to engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or overeating, which can further damage your marriage.
The bottom line is that stress in marriage can be dangerous. It can lead to arguments, communication problems, and even divorce. If you’re feeling stressed, we offer 16 things you can do to reduce the negative impact of stress in your marriage.
Know What Causes Stress in Your Relationship
There are many factors that contribute to stress in a relationship. Some of those include:
- Financial problems.
- Lack of communication.
- Trust issues.
- Control issues.
- Different priorities and expectations.
- Family problems.
- Health problems.
- Career problems.
- Social pressure.
These are just some of the potential causes of stress in a relationship. If you’re experiencing stress in your relationship, it’s important to talk to your partner about it and try to find a way to resolve the issue.
Common Reactions To Stress In A Relationship
When you’re experiencing stress, you may find yourself reacting in one of these three ways. However, each of these responses can be a source of anxiety and distress for you.
Most psychologist list three major ways we react to pain, problems, and stress: Flight, Fight, or Freeze.
While this is over-simplifying reality, it is useful to help us understand human nature and helps us identify negative ways we react to issues that cause us pain. Knowledge is power. If it is used to move your forward in life.
Let’s break these three responses down:
This reaction involves either running away from the situation, or avoiding it entirely. You may feel too overwhelmed to handle what’s happening, and decide that the best thing to do is avoid dealing with it altogether.
Fighting is another way to escape a difficult situation. Your partner may be yelling or screaming, trying to make you see things his/her way. Or he/she may just want to vent. In either case, this is a very reactive response to stress.
Freezing occurs when you become completely paralyzed by fear, anxiety, guilt or shame. You don’t know how to react to something because you’ve never been there before.
For example, you may feel frozen by uncertainty about whether to tell someone important news, or you may freeze up when faced with a challenging situation.
The more we understand ‘why we do what we do’ the better we are able to change negative behavior.
16 Things You Can Do To Reduce Marital Stress
Here are 16 things you can do to be proactive about dealing with stress in general, but especially stress in your relationship.
#1: Keep Your Spouse A Priority
I specifically use the term ‘spouse’ instead of marriage. It’s possible to have your marriage as a high priority, yet neglect your spouse. But it is impossible to make your spouse a priority and neglect your marriage. I hope you can see the difference.
In today’s culture, it’s easy to think, “I’ll do what I want!” But this is actually a very unhealthy way to live. When we focus on ourselves, we are putting our needs first, and that puts us in conflict with others. We end up resenting those around us because we feel like they aren’t doing enough for us.
In reality, we only have control over our actions. If we don’t treat others well, we won’t receive good treatment. If we don’t take care of our health, we won’t be healthy. And if we don’t love God, we won’t experience His love. So, let’s make sure we’re always putting someone else first.
#2: Schedule Time Together
We talk a lot about quality time as a couple. But sometimes we get so focused on the quality of the time that we forget bonds are created (often) by the amount of time we spend together.
This is why office co-workers become friends outside of work. They spend so much time together a bond grows that makes them feel connected.
Married couples who spend time together tend to be happier and more fulfilled than those who don’t.
47,000 couples in the United States were studied by Sarah Flood and Katie Genadek (both research scientist). They found that marriage satisfaction is largely based on the amount of time couples spend together. The more time spent together determined the level of happiness they experienced.
When an individual is with their spouse, they are almost twice as happy as when they are not. In addition, they report that their activities hold more meaning and are less stressful.Source
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#3: Keep Little Things Little
My mom used to say, ‘Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.’ At the time I wasn’t sure what she meant. With age (often) comes wisdom. I’ve dealt with enough marital issues in couples to realize how significant this advice is; stop making little issues big problems.
It’s easy to get so focused on the little things that bother you that they become big problems in your marriage. The more laser focused you are on what is wrong, the bigger the issue seems. Most of the time it is not as big as you think it is. Your focus is magnifying the problem to the point it becomes larger than life.
Happy couples know how to keep little things small. They don’t blow things out of proportion or focus on minor disagreements. This allows them to move in the direction of their dreams rather than argue about insignificant things.
#4: Make Serving Others A Marriage Partnership
George MacDonald taught “It is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another.”
Couples who serve others together are happier and experience a higher purpose in life.
Florida State University conducted a research experiment with over 300 participants. They found that people with strong social connections were happier than those without those connections.
However, they also discovered people who were involved in helping others (and saw themselves as givers) had a higher sense of meaning.
In other words, happiness may be connected to our friendships and social connections, but meaning and purpose is connected to serving others.
Attending to the needs of other people and interacting with them brings new ideas and creativity, gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, boosts our self-esteem and brings personal growth and transformation. Serving others can improve our support networks, encourage us to lead a more active and meaningful life, distract us from our own problems, cultivate optimism and increase personal satisfaction.Dr. Nasreen Lalani
Couples who serve together develop a strong bond because they are tapping into shared meaning and purpose.
#5: Keep The Lines Of Communication Open and Clear
Communication is one of the most important aspects of marriage. But communication is not just about talking; it is about connecting.
I know couples who talk a lot, but it often ends in an argument. They are talking AT each other, not connecting TO each other. There is a huge difference.
On the other hand, I know couples who seem ‘quiet’ compared to others. The husband doesn’t talk a lot, or the wife is soft spoken. But they know how to connect with each other.
The key, in my opinion, is they are always available (emotionally, mentally, and spiritually) for each other. This keeps the lines of communication open and clear.
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#6: Don’t Neglect Physical Touch
The Kinsey Institute reports that non-sexual physical touch has unique benefits.
Partners who touched each other more and who were happier with the amount of touch they were receiving tended to be more sexually satisfied and were happier in their relationships.
In his article, The Importance and Power of Physical Touch, Christopher Uh tells how a coronary heart patient was experiencing a rapid heartbeat in an intensive care unit. When a nurse approached and held his hand his heart rate returned to normal (calmed). When she was called away, his heart began to flutter (race) again.
Physical connection often runs parallel with emotional connection. In one sense, it’s difficult to have one without the other.
Touch is crucial in creating and strengthening romantic relationships. Tactile physical affection is highly correlated with overall relationship and partner satisfaction.Gulledge, Gulledge, and Shahmann
#7: Use A Budget To Control Your Money
Money problems is among the top 3 stressors in married couples. Making sure you control your money, so money problems don’t control you, is crucial to marital happiness.
Living on a budget doesn’t mean going without things you need (or even want). It is, however, a way to prioritize those wants and needs so you don’t spend more than you make.
Couples who manage their money have fewer financial worries.
#8: Don’t Bury Your Feelings
I often tell couples, ‘You are not your feelings.’ In other words, emotions should not define you. You HAVE emotions, but you are NOT your emotions. There is difference. Those who have a grasp on this difference tend to be more emotionally healthy.
With that said, it is important to have the freedom to express your emotions and feelings. Especially your feelings.
I’ve written about this before, but I make a distinction between emotions and feelings.
Emotions are driven (influenced) by events and circumstances. Situations can cause certain emotions to rise up.
Feelings are determined by our perception of reality about who we think we are – what we think about ourselves.
Healthy relationships happen when couples feel secure enough to share their thoughts and feelings, knowing they will be loved and accepted.
#9: Practice Active Listening
Active listening is more than a buzz word. We hear it all the time: practice active listening. But often we fail to put it into practice.
Active listening means genuinely caring about the other person and what they have to say. It is not merely hearing their words (then forming what you want to say in response); it is more about empathy, than hearing.
Empathy is one of the keys to a healthy marriage. Psychologist often define it as:
The ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.(Source)
Active listening demands we put ourselves in our spouses shows to see things from their perspective. It doesn’t mean we always agree. But it does mean we seek to understand.
One of the most deadly relationship traits is the need to be right, rather than to understand. In other words, if all you care about is being right and winning the argument, you lose. Healthy couples know how to enter their spouses world to understand how they feel and think.
Again, it doesn’t require 100% agreement; but it does require 100% acceptance.
#10: Don’t Play The Blame Game
When we fail to take responsibility for our decisions and actions, we limit our ability to solve problems and move forward in life.
Blaming others (especially each other) increases stress in two ways.
First, blaming someone else implies that I am not in control of the outcome.
It means someone else has the power to determine the outcome. This increases stress because when we lose the power to control our lives, we feel anxious, unsure, and powerless. This drives up the level of stress we feel.
On the other hand, when we own our lives (by taking responsibility for the outcomes we experience) we have the power to change things to get a different result. This lowers stress.
Second, when we blame our spouse we create tension in our relationship. Blame is a form of accusation and judgment. This always intensifies feelings of rejection and condemnation. Which in turn raises the level of stress.
By taking responsibility for how we respond to situations, we create an atmosphere of acceptance and unity to work through problems.
Of course, there is balance to this concept. Not blaming your spouse doesn’t mean you take the blame. It simply means you own what you are responsible for and let go of the rest.
If you are in an abusive situation, it is not your fault. The point I want to make is that YOU are not to blame for your spouses problems. It is not about taking blame for everything; it is about not blaming someone else. There is a slight difference that needs to be understood.
#11: Give Authentic Appreciation
Everyone wants to feel valued. It’s part of our wiring. We work hard to get a promotion or raise because that’s the way we measure value. It’s the same in relationships. This is why showing appreciation is key to increasing value in your marriage and lowering stress.
Appreciating your mate helps them feel good about themselves. And it makes them feel appreciated by you.
#12: Don’t Put Your Spouse Down In Public (or any time)
Have you every met a couple who used each other as the butt of their jokes in public? I cringe when I see or hear this. I know it is the prelude to trouble.
Maintaining a strong relationship requires constant care and communication, and certain traits have been shown to be especially important for fostering healthy relationships. Each individual should, for starters, feel confident that their partner is willing to devote time and attention to the other. They must both also be committed to accommodating their differences, even as those change over time.Psychology Today
Showing value (see above) is one of the ways we can reduce or eliminate stress in our relationship.
#13: Stop Letting Outside Pressure Control Your Schedule
One reason we feel stress is when we lose control of our time. Some things are unavoidable; job schedules (we all have to work), school schedules (raising children takes time). These things are part of life.
However, there are other time grabbers that eat away at our day, week and life that creep in unnoticed. They eat away at our schedule which increases stress.
These ‘time grabbers’ are usually little things we barely notice. But they frustrate us because we get sucked into them and before you know it, you’ve wasted (lost) hours of your day. They are stressors and we’ve all experienced them.
So, how you do eliminate these time wasters?
I’m not sure you can totally rid your life of all of them, but you can gain control of the majority by applying a few simple principles.
First, be aware of what is eating away your time.
In this case, knowledge is power. The more you know about where you spend your time, the better control you will have. Keep a journal or mark it on your calendar, but take note of what eats away at your day.
Second, work with your spouse to develop a plan of action.
Working together helps because those time wasters impact your relationship. When you work in conjunction with one another, you can see things the other person may not see. It helps you create a plan that your both can work with.
Third, identify the things that interfere the most in your marriage.
Not all events, situations, and ‘time grabbers’ are equal. Some are more deadly than others. Find the ones that damage your relationship the most, so you can work together to find a solution.
Finally, be ruthless to extract the things that hurt your relationship.
If something causes problems in your marriage, get rid of it. If you have determined (together) that this ‘thing’ is hurting your marriage, it is not worth holding on to. Extract it like a surgeon removing cancer; it has to go.
If you put these four things into place, you will reduce the level of stress in your marriage.
#14: Don’t Compare Your Relationship To Others
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘Keeping up with Joneses!’ It represents that pressure we feel to measure up to others.
It happens when we want to be like, look like, and have what other couples have. It is often subtle. Many times we don’t even realize we are falling into the trap. Yet, when we feel the pressure to measure up, it increases stress in our lives.
This is why it is often called, ‘the snare to compare.’ It is a trap that catches you and holds you hostage.
It’s one thing to admire another couple. It’s another to try and be that couple.
Let’s be honest. We all define success based on our own desires, needs, and aspirations. Marriage is much the same way. While there are certainly standards we all have in common (fidelity, trust, acceptance, love), each relationship is unique. We should refuse to measure our lives by what we think others experience, and define our marriage based on our own goals, dreams, and sense of purpose.
This keeps us out of the trap of comparison.
#15: Don’t Carry Conflict To Bed
Arguments and disagreements are normal. Even healthy. It means we care enough to debate and discuss. Those disagreements become lethal when we fail to deal with them in healthy ways. Or we fail to deal with them at all.
The phrase, ‘don’t carry your conflict to bed’ means top refusing to deal with the issues that are affecting your relationship.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.Ephesians 4:26
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time to cool off or think things through. On the contrary, there are times when we need to stop talking about the problem. When tempers flare and emotions are high, it is not the time to deal with hot issues. It’s the time to slow down, step away, and get control. Only then can we effectively deal with things and find solutions.
Not carrying conflict to bed implies two things:
1) Don’t let conflict interfere with your intimacy.
When we withdraw from each other, we only add fuel to the fire. This increases stress. It doesn’t eliminate it.
Keep in contact with your spouse. I say this quite literally. Physical touch helps reduce stress and puts problems into perspective.
2) Don’t stuff your feelings and let resentment filter into your relationship.
In other words, deal with things as they come up (when possible) or in a timely manner so they don’t get blown out of proportion.
If you are experiencing anger issues in your marriage, read our series on Anger in the Family.
#16: Release Tension Through Physical Exercise
Harvard Health says:
Just about any form of motion on a regular basis helps relieve pent-up tension. Rhythmic, repetitive movements, such as walking, running, swimming, bicycling, and rowing — and specific types of exercise such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong — actually elicit the relaxation response, too.
This article mentions two things about exercise:
1) Physical movement releases pint up stress which makes us feel better.
2) Exercise releases relaxation chemicals and responses after a workout.
Both of these help manage everyday stressors.
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Final Thoughts On Dealing With Stress In Your Marriage
Stress is a part of life. But there are deadly levels of stress that destroy a relationship. Learning how to deal with these stressors will help us enjoy marriage and create a loving culture in our home.
In this article, we ‘ve covered some great tips for dealing with stress in your marriage. If you’re feeling stressed use these practical tips to eliminate major stressors in your relationship.
- The Danger of Stress in Marriage
- Know What Causes Stress in Your Relationship
- Common Reactions To Stress In A Relationship
- 16 Things You Can Do To Reduce Marital Stress
- #1: Keep Your Spouse A Priority
- #2: Schedule Time Together
- #3: Keep Little Things Little
- #4: Make Serving Others A Marriage Partnership
- #5: Keep The Lines Of Communication Open and Clear
- #6: Don’t Neglect Physical Touch
- #7: Use A Budget To Control Your Money
- #8: Don’t Bury Your Feelings
- #9: Practice Active Listening
- #10: Don’t Play The Blame Game
- #11: Give Authentic Appreciation
- #12: Don’t Put Your Spouse Down In Public (or any time)
- #13: Stop Letting Outside Pressure Control Your Schedule
- #14: Don’t Compare Your Relationship To Others
- #15: Don’t Carry Conflict To Bed
- #16: Release Tension Through Physical Exercise
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If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.