Couples experience excessive amounts of stress. I’m not talking about relationship stress. I mean regular, every day stress.
They tell me how busy they are and all the reasons why they feel disconnected with each other. The problem is, their busyness is chronic.
One client said, “We are crazy busy all of the time”. Another couple said, “We are so busy, from 7am until 9pm, it’s all go”. For myself in my own marriage, I know “busy” as much as my clients, as much as you. My spouse and I experience the tension of excessive stress in our lives also.
I recently attended a workshop where noted speaker, Esther Perel, said that modern couples put out the very best of themselves during the day and merely offer each other the leftovers of themselves at the very end. Yup. I’ve been there.
We all need to take responsibility for the impact of stress in our relationship. It’s up to us. Work as a team to help decrease stress in your life by following these steps:
Step #1: Know Your Symptoms
We tend to ignore stress until it has us at the edge of our cliff. Stress gives us signals that we need to pay attention to. Know your signals. Some of you may get irritable, more easily annoyed, less tolerant or impatient. Some of you may become sleepless at night or worry excessively.
Ask yourself, “How do I know I am stressed?” and when you know your signals, share them with your partner. This helps your partner depersonalize your behavior when it is less than stellar due to stress. It also helps them tune into you and ask, “Hey, are you okay? Are you stressed?”
Step #2: Share Your Stress
If you tune into your own stress signals and know you are stressed, say it out loud! I recently had my own financial stress and I felt heaviness in my chest. This was my signal. That night, I said to my spouse, “I need to tell you, I’m totally stressed out about money”. And we talked about it.
Saying it out loud opens up dialogue. It also allows you to not carry the burdens alone. When you say it out loud, you disempower the stressful thoughts. It becomes less consuming.
Step #3: Problem Solve Together
Once you recognize signals and share them with your partner, the conversation should shift to “How do we resolve this?”
Now, together, you begin to brainstorm what you can both do to ease a burden, resolve a problem, make a change, whatever it needs to be.
Two brains work stronger than one a lot of the time. Knowing your partner has your back, or simply that you feel supported can almost instantly shift the feeling of stress, sometimes even when circumstances stay the same.
For the receiving partner, it’s important to ask, “What can I do to help? or if you both feel the stress, come up with three possible solutions or changes to make it better.
Stress may play a vital role in the disconnection you feel in your relationship. It also zaps your creative energy towards sex and playfulness. I see this every single day in the office. Modern love is challenging.
Sometimes, my own marriage feels like Aristone Family Incorporated. If we are not careful, we will spend more time being life managers than loving, thoughtful, connected partners.
Knowing the holiday season is upon us, let’s nip this in the bud before the eye of the holiday storm arrives. Work as a team, make loving each other your top priority and know that your partner has your back.
Take THAT stress!