A recent survey noted in USA Today surveyed Americans about their stress level. 64% of those ages 18 to 33 replied saying they feel moderate to extreme levels of stress, and 98% replied that mild to moderate stress affected all levels of their life. Stress is inescapable in our daily news; political candidates, financial upsets, and street violence along with possible terrorist attacks. It becomes overwhelming when you add your own financial, work, and family problems. The effects of stress take their toll on those closest to you and that usually means your relationships.
An article from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that in otherwise healthy couples, 80% agreed that during stressful times, such as political turmoil, they feel less sure of their relationship or partner, and report higher levels of not feeling close or secure with their relationship. When stress becomes a chronic lifestyle, relationships begin to crumble.
Having a healthy relationship is correlated highly with having a good quality of life and sense of well-being. Couples who manage stress well also have less stressed out children.
Signs of stress in your relationship:
- You can no longer talk without having an argument or fight. Everything said is taken personally; stress clouds reality. The higher your stress, the less tolerance you have for anyone or any discussion that doesn’t go your way.
- You’re more irritable. When you’re stressed you have a hard time seeing the positive or good in anything.
- You’re more glued to your phone, Facebook or other social media. Getting likes and shared views gives you validation.
- You begin looking outside your partner for validation or interest. Excessive stress makes you feel as though your partner doesn’t understand or validate you.
- You doubt your relationships and begin feeling more jaded that it’s worthwhile. If you can’t agree on politics or other issues, you begin feeling less connected to your partner. This contributes to feeling angry and less interested in your partner intimately.
De-stressing your relationships begins with you:
- Create a plan with your partner. Encourage each other to exercise and get back on each other’s support team. Doing one thing each day that helps calm your partner makes them feel more supported.
- Do what you need to do to calm yourself. Stay away from topics that upset you. Take a meditation class online, listen to music, see your health care professional, watch old movies or call a friend. You need to manage your stress, because only you can manage your thoughts.
- Exchange duties so each of you gets time to relax. No one person in a relationship can do it all. Being part of a relationship means taking more of the load when your partner is stressed.
- Prioritize your relationship. Seeking balance means some days will be good and others not so good. Your relationship doesn’t have to be perfect nor does it have to be a fairy tale. You needn’t agree on all the issues, so keep your relationship separate from the stress of the world. Being able to laugh at the craziness and lean on each other is far better than trying to do it all on your own.
- Don’t be afraid to accept help. When life gets hectic don’t forget those who support you. Asking for help from your parents, friends and health care when you need it is a step in the right direction with managing stress.
Stress is here to stay and it’s up to you how damaging the stress is to your relationship. Having awareness and a plan of action for life’s tough times is good for you and your relationship.