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There is no couple in the world without any amount of stress. Whether personal, relational, or professional, stress is the most persistent element of our lives. We need to acknowledge and address it healthily to positively impact our relational interactions. It affects how we show up in our marriage or relationship, how we speak with our partner, how we deal with situations that stress us out, and how people around us feel when we are stressed.

The ability to manage relationship stress or any other form of stress in relationships depends largely on our emotional and cognitive processes. Our emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, our attachment styles, our communication skills, and our psychological resilience.

In this detailed article, we will explore the reasons that cause stress, how couples can manage stress together, and how individuals can deal with their own stress while supporting their partner.

Stress In Relationships

Understanding The Sources Of Stress In Relationships

Personal Stress:

Personal stress in relationships includes individual concerns such as health issues, self-esteem problems, personal goals and aspirations. Personal stresses stem from past experiences, present situations, and major life changes.

Professional Stress: 

Having been there as the most common type of stress, it usually stems from job insecurity, job uncertainty, high workload, and dissatisfaction with one’s career path.

Relationship Stress: 

The dynamics of relationships are such that they cause stress. It could be due to communication gaps, unmet expectations, financial problems, childcare, households, and differences in life goals and dreams.

Parenting Stress: 

In a marriage or a relationship, stress related to parenting, children’s upbringing, different parenting styles, health, development, education, behaviors, and social pressures for being a ‘perfect parent’ often impact the relationship.

How To Manage Stress In Relationships As A Couple

While stress can strain our relationships, it does not have to be the only guide in our lives. Together, partners can work on dealing with stress in the following ways:

Honest Communication: 

Let your partner know you are stressed about a certain thing. “Hey, I have been feeling stressed out because of the interview. I don’t know if I can deal with it.” When we approach the subject causing stress with open words, our partner can better hear us and support us. It will be easier for them to understand our perspective and truly listen to us.

Active listening plays a vital role in communication. Suppose your partner tells you about why they are stressed. Instead of jumping into solutions or invalidating their feelings, approach it like- “I am here to listen to you. Please tell me what is causing you stress.” or “How can I better support you?” When you adopt active listening, you open up space for an honest dialogue and safety for both partners to express.

Establish Healthy Boundaries:

Stress in relationships is a constant. But it does not have to overturn your lives. For that, healthy boundaries come into play.

  • Personal space- respect each other’s need for personal space when dealing with individual stress.
  • Social activities- meeting friends and family, going out alone or together, attending or participating in social events are examples of social activities one can do to manage stress in relationships. The key is that both partners feel fulfilled and stay calm.

Teamwork And Support 

Approaching stress in the relationship as a team proves to be a solid opportunity for reconnecting and building a deeper understanding of each other. It is crucial to support each other through rough times. One can do it by:

Working Together: Tackle problems as a team, whether at home or out, without placing blame. Look for collaborative ways to solve a problem.

Use supportive phrases: “We will figure it out”, “Let’s work it through together”, “You are not alone in this; I am with you”, and “I will help you with this” are supportive phrases that work wonders when dealing with relationship stress.

Distribution of responsibilities: Building a home together requires sharing household responsibilities, childcare, and finances. It not only alleviates the burden on one person but also fosters a sense of teamwork and mutual support. No partner feels overwhelmed or undervalued when promoting a harmonious living environment.

Suggested Reading: How to Avoid Belittling Your Partner: From Fiery Words to Loving Actions

For Managing Stress In A Relationship

Individual Strategies For Managing Stress In A Relationship

Self-Care Practices: 

Taking care of yourself is important because you cannot pour from an empty cup. Managing stress becomes feasible when you make time for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The best ways to self-care are:

  • Exercise;
  • A healthy and nutritious diet;
  • Adequate sleep;
  • Spending time with loved ones;
  • Reading and education;
  • Mindful breathing;
  • Meditation and prayer;
  • Journalling;
  • Practising gratitude;
  • Puzzles and games;
  • Joining clubs or groups you have an interest in;
  • Learning new skills;
  • Digital Detox.

Suggested Reading: Prioritise yourself with these self-care ideas!

Professional Help

It is advisable to seek professional help either from a relationship coach or a therapist when dealing with stress in relationships. Speaking with a therapist or a coach provides you with a different and deeper perspective on situations and guides you in the direction of finding solutions best suited to you and your relationship. A coach or a therapist will provide you with the tools and strategies to overcome your stress.

Coaching and therapy offer you a safe space to explore your emotions in a non-judgemental way and develop coping mechanisms that are healthy for you and your relationship.

couple therapy

Supporting Your Partner Through Relationship Stress 

Be Patient And Understanding.

  • Show empathy towards your partner when they are trying to express themselves. Don’t dismiss or invalidate their feelings by saying, “You are overreacting”, “You cannot be feeling this way”, “Why are you so sensitive?”, “You should not feel like this”, or “Why do you make a big out of nothing?” etc.
  • Understand that their stress might make them irritable, distant, or even annoyed. It is not a reflection of your relationship.
  • Be patient, and give them ample space to feel and process their feelings. Be there when they are ready to talk about it.
  • Refrain from jumping to offer them solutions. Sometimes, our partner simply wants to vent out without needing you to solve their problems.
  • Remember, it is not your job to do their work for them. Your role is to offer support and encouragement, not to solve their problems or take up their responsibilities.
  • Empower your partner to handle their challenges; it helps build resilience and emotional strength in them.
  • Offer a non-judgmental and empathetic listening ear while they unfold their stressful situation.

Encourage Healthy Habits 

Encourage your partner to delve into healthy habits, like exercise, mindful eating, etc., for these help reduce stress and release hormones like serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. They help elevate and regulate your mood, appetite, and sleep and also act as natural painkillers. Dopamine, known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone, plays a crucial role in promoting a sense of happiness and motivation.

Offer Practical Support 

  • Take some of the obvious responsibilities that may lift some load off their mind. It can be households or running errands.
  • Be present- sometimes, being around your partner helps you find some sense of security and togetherness.
  • If you have children, take over parenting duties like- school drop-offs, bedtime routine, or helping with homework.
  • Watch a movie together, go for a walk outdoors, enjoy a meal with each other, or do your mutually favourite activity together. My husband and I usually take a walk outside our house or watch reels. We share laughter and deep talks.
  • Encourage them to take breaks and engage in self-care activities.
  • Create a soothing environment at home by reducing clutter, playing calm music, or lighting candles.
  • Provide comfort items like their favourite snack, a cosy blanket, or a warm beverage.
  • Assist with work-related tasks that can be done collaboratively.
  • You can also help them with their presentations, scheduling or planning, updating resumes, or preparing for the interviews.
  • Remember, you are a team. Sometimes, stress creeps into our lives and can make us distant from our partner. But working through it together can help alleviate it.

Managing stress in relationships requires mutual support, intentional effort, and patience. By addressing the sources of stress, practising self-care activities, and supporting each other, couples can navigate through stress in relationships and build stronger bonds. Remember, stress is a natural part of life. But with the right strategies, it doesn’t have to harm your relationship.

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