MARRIAGE AND STRESS ARE INSEPARABLE: SEVEN EASY STEPS TOWARDS FIXING IT!
Couples across cultures and continents, race and religions, economics and demographics all experience the same human emotion when faced with challenges in their primary intimate relationship. It feels like nothing ever gets resolved, the dance just keeps repeating itself. It’s the merry-go-round of pain, misunderstanding, hurtful words and blame that gets uglier with each turn of the wheel.
NAME YOUR STRESS
The biggest stressor is prolonged, chronic stress! Take your pick: depression by one or both partners, long term illness, work stress, money stress, problems with children, addictions, blended families, co-parenting issues (not unified in your parenting style), it seems all consuming at times.
- Chronic stress can cause physical symptoms (backache, headache), or emotional upset (anxiety, anger) or relationship disconnect or conflict.
A very common yet significant issue for couples is core value differences. When you first met him, he seemed so interesting and enticing (opposites attract), but after the romance faded, it turned out to be a disconnect between each of your core values: education, how to raise your children, travelling, money, marital roles and responsibilities, religion and more.
These are BIG ticket items when it comes to maintaining a long-term marriage with someone.
Shared core values: Honesty, Trust, Communication is the key equalizer to a stronger healthier happier marriage. Is this the guy who judged you or made negative comments about your core beliefs or how you were raised?
- If you are at the pre-marital stage be sure to interview him several times before you have sex. Understand his values, behaviors and approach to life. This will speak volumes to you as you start deciphering if he’s the right guy. If he’s not the right match for you, the sex will not seem as imminent.
- Notice the red flags! Think back as to how you saw clues but you ignored them and thought he would change over time.
- Don’t marry him to change him! Remember,what you see is what you get.
HOW YOU COPE UNDER STRESS IS DIFFERENT FROM JUST COPING IN GENERAL.
Regardless of which problem you choose as the most common for you and your spouse to argue about, you’re not alone! The underlying foundation for most common problems are how each of you cope with your own feelings of anxiety, while dealing with your partner’s feelings of frustration or painful silence. What makes it complicated for couples is how you interact with each other in dealing with those hot topic issues.
You worry that you when you’re ready to finally talk, he isn’t. You wonder what to do when he says: “Let’s talk.” But then he does all the talking! Your biggest fear is that too much time will have passed and when you finally talk, it erupts into a yelling match or complete silence and awkwardness for days, until one of you decides to speak first.
- Talking is always better than not talking about it!
- How you talk is just as important. Do it when you’re alone and uninterrupted, rested and calm, focused and caring.
- At the outset, announce your intentions to make it a dialogue so that each of you speaks and listens to each other with respect.
IS IT SECRETS, SEX OR MONEY? OR IS IT SECRETS ABOUT SEX AND MONEY?
More often, it’s usually secrets, about sex and money! According to one study, 33% of people admitted to lying to their spouses about finances with an estimated 7 million Americans reporting that they are hiding a secret bank account.
Secrets are insidious and can be a dangerous slippery slope that starts with a small detail you leave out when talking about your day, to a white lie about how much you really spent at the store. Over time, it becomes a habit, and like any habit, the lie grows bigger and wider until you feel like your life is out of control!
- Intimacy is about sharing thoughts feelings and behaviors with yourself first and then with your partner.
- Honesty begins with sharing your thoughts and how you feel with your spouse.
I FEEL ALONE IN MY MARRIAGE
For you, life can spin between fear, guilt, shame, resentment, justification for what you did and why you did it. Then you do it all over again. At this point, you’re numb and the only thing you feel is exhausted and alone. You’re alone in this marriage with a partner who does not know you and you don’t know how to change it.
- If you find yourself living a lie with your spouse, it is vital that you take steps towards healing that gap even if you have to reach out to a relationship professional, or your pastor, Don’t delay!
In a poll, of over 1000 U.S. adults, self-reported that personal financial concerns was the number one stressor! Notably, our society is increasingly more stressed out than it was 6 months ago or even 5 years ago! So, if stress isn’t going anywhere, then what can you do about it? TAKE ACTION NOW!
OMG! IT’S NOT A MOUNTAIN BUT A MOUNTAIN RANGE!
It probably looks like a big mountain of issues from where you’re standing, so you have to decide to begin changing the pattern or style of communication between the two of you. So, reach out to him in kindness. Manage a calm demeanor and ask him when he’s avail to sit and talk, just the two of you without interruption (not late at night, not after drinks, turn off cell phones). It’s best when you are rested and fresh.
SEVEN CONCRETE SIMPLE STEPS TO IMPROVING, DECREASING AND ELIMINATING THE STRESS IN YOUR MARRIAGE
- Make up your mind right now to cope differently. Change your mindset from: worried and negative, or angry and grumpy to: hopeful, determined and positive! Be brave and look directly at the problem.
Try this technique:
Talk to yourself about the problem the same way your best friend would talk to you about the problem! Your best friend would be patient, supportive, and caring. Your best friend would be your cheerleader and tell you that you can do this and how you will get through this successfully!
- When you have that conversation with your husband, be sure to relax, breathe and start calmly. Remember this is your chance to be his best friend and to support him throughout the conversation so that together you successfully get thru the more difficult parts of the conversation with a loving attitude!
- This is about forgiving yourself and each other for past actions and moving forward in a dedicated goal towards healing the problem and eliminating the stressor.
- Ask for your partner’s help so that each of you own your part of the process.
- Start with small incremental steps and when you are successful then move to intermediate steps, then ultimately to larger steps to finalize success.
Decide on which stressor, name the stressor, define the stressor, then work together to eliminate the stressor! Break the problem down into user friendly steps by communicating clearly to ensure understanding between the two of you.
Example: You can pay off one bill or all the bills, get a new job, telecommute, instead of commuting long distances, come home early one night a week for family dinner (or date night). Identify together your number one stressor that is negatively impacting your marriage.
- Appreciation! Appreciate what you have. Visualize your life without the stressor and talk to each other a for a few moments about what that would look like and how it would feel. This is a very powerful tool towards positive change. Share the fantasy!
- Make it a weekly conversation so that you can “check in” with each other to see how it’s going and make adjustments as needed. In this way, it will become fluid rather than rigid. It will be collaborative and voluntary rather than dictated or demanded.