Managing Stress in Marriage

Most people are aware of the injurious personal costs of stress - those that harm the individual. However, we often do not consider the destructive interpersonal consequences - those that damage our relationships. Concerning marriage, the effects of stress can certainly present many difficult challenges. [See related article.]  But, your marriage can survive – and even thrive – despite encountering stress if you learn to manage it properly.

Here are some practical tips to consider regarding managing stress in your marriage...

(1)  Find contentment – To be content means to find a satisfaction and peace with whatever state in whatever state we find ourselves. Often times our frustrations and anxieties about marriage and life stem from unrealistic expectations. There is no such thing as a perfect mate, a perfect marriage, or a perfect life. Insisting upon ideal circumstances only add to the stress and unhappiness.

(2)  Fix what you can – Not everything needs fixing. Neither is it possible to fix every uncomfortable or difficult situation. Sometimes we just need to just accept bad news and learn to cope. But, we can fix some things! The key to doing this is to differentiate between normal life stresses and our own bad decisions. Some things are outside of our control, but we can still do what we can to minimize the negative outcomes. Other problems are a direct result of the choices that you and/or your spouse have made and can be corrected over time.

(3)  Diffuse conflict – Whatever the sources of your tension and trauma there is one thing that is certain - fighting about your circumstances can only make things worse. Keep your attitude in check. Realize that you are both human and give each other a break. Rather than provoking one another actively work to help one another while remaining calm and collected.

(4)  Unwind – We can minimize the negative effects of stress by learning how to relax and alleviate the emotional, mental, and physical pressure that it brings. There are numerous ways to do this, but the critical thing is to find a way that works and do it. It is important not only to unwind and de-stress personally, but also to take time together to have fun and build your relationship.

(5)  Communicate openly – Ignoring stress and refusing to talk about it doesn’t help. Often couples report that talking about troubles just seems to compound them. However, if done properly communicating openly about difficulties will be a key to overcoming them. Keep in mind, though, that problems don’t need to be discussed immediately or repeatedly. Make a plan to talk about hardships at a time and venue that will be conducive to constructive communication and problem solving.

(6)  Take care of your health – Since stress can take a harsh physical toll on us it is vitally important to adopt healthy habits. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle all of the time will certainly minimize the negative symptoms associated with stress as well as provide many other benefits.
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