There’s a big difference between dealing with work stress and dealing with relationship stress. These coping strategies for stressful relationships will help you cope with stress in other parts of your life.
“Dealing with it is the operative word. I found myself at seven years not battling it,” said Michael J. Fox in an interview with Barbara Walters. “Not struggling with it. Not suffering from it. Not breaking under the burden of it, but dealing with it.”
Have you been ignoring or avoiding the stress in your relationship? You need to face it, and find ways to stop battling, struggling, suffering, and breaking because of it. You need to find healthy ways to how to reduce relationship stress – and sometimes the best way is to get outside help. Not always, but professional therapy is something to consider if you and your partner have been coping with stress for a long time.
Coping Strategies for Stressful Relationships
Signs of stress include insomnia, overeating or not eating enough, irritability, depression, lack of focus, and chronic exhaustion. If you or your partner are struggling with emotional or physical health concerns because of the stress in your relationship, talk to a doctor. Don’t keep ignoring the signs of stress, or you’ll find yourself facing bigger problems.
Try to determine the source of your relationship stress
The source of stress is NOT the external events that everyday life brings (everything from running out of soy milk to coping with infertility). The real source of relationship stress is how you respond to life’s everyday events.
For instance, I tend to withdraw from my husband when I feel hurt or disappointed. I pull away emotionally and physically. This causes stress in our relationship; giving him the cold shoulder does not help us communicate or build a better marriage! I’ve learned that we always hurt each other in big and little ways. Not on purpose, but such is the nature of living with someone you love. One of the most important coping strategies is to accept that you’ll always face stress in your relationship and your life.
If you have money problems, read How to Decrease Financial Stress for Couples.
Think about how you cope with stress
Do you pull away from your partner when you’re stressed at home or work, like I do? Maybe you tend to explode in anger, or turn to addictive behavior (overeating, gambling, drinking, drugging it up). You learned how to deal with stress in your relationship by watching your family as you grew up. Is your coping strategy working for or against you? Learn how to deal with stress in healthier, more productive ways.
Invest time and energy in your relationship
When you’re stressed, the last thing you want to do is move forward into it. Our natural tendency is to avoid stress, not deal with it. But it’s the most important thing to do! You need to build a strong, healthy, loving foundation at home so you can be happy and effective in the other parts of your life. Don’t give up –keep working towards a healthy, strong relationship.
One of the most valuable coping strategies for stressful relationships is to turn to one another. Don’t make your partner the enemy. Instead, remember that you chose each other for a reason. Tap into that buried love you have for each other, and allow your love to help you see past the source of stress.
Be gentle with yourself – and with your partner
I’m very hard on myself, and also very hard on the people I love most…like my husband. I’m learning that the more gently and lovingly I treat myself – the more I accept myself – the better I treat my husband. And when I treat my husband with love and respect, my stress level goes way down. How gentle and loving are you with yourself? With your partner?
Find ways to have fun together
When you play with your partner, your bond gets stronger. When we’re stressed, the first thing that gets booted is fun, laughter, and light-heartedness. I’m not a big fan of board games, but I wrote 10 Fun Games for Couples to help decrease stress in relationships. Personally, I’d rather go on an adventure – even a day hike – than play board games. But, different people de-stress in different ways, right?
Allow your partner to deal with stress in his own way
One of the best tips on finding coping strategies for relationship stress is to give your partner space to de-stress in the way that makes the most sense to him. Me, I love yoga and hiking with my dogs and being alone and writing. Those activities help me deal with stress in my marriage, and in my life in general.
My husband deals with stress in different ways. I don’t understand how his stress management techniques work for him, but I believe he knows what he’s doing. If we accept our partners for who they are, we will feel less stressed in our relationships. Knowing how to deal with stress in relationships is key to staying together and being happy. So is learning how to love your partner but still let him do things his own way.
Learn how stress affects your body
When I’m stressed, I turn to food as my coping strategy. The irony is that it doesn’t help me have a less stressful relationship with my husband. In fact, eating increases the stress I feel in both my body and my relationship. So why do I do it? Because I haven’t learned how to listen to my body and find the coping strategies that reduce stress in my relationship.
How does stress affect your body? Make time to listen to what your body is telling you, for it is talking all the time. Signs of stress such as irritability, impatience, low energy levels, and inability to sleep are your body’s ways of telling you its stressed out.
I welcome your thoughts on these coping strategies for stressful relationships below. I can’t offer advice, but you may find it helpful to share your experience.
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May you find the right strategies for coping with stress in your relationship. I pray for wisdom, good health, and strong today and forevermore.