Political debates, stock market fluctuations, and the coronavirus can be frightening, uncontrollable happenings. The uncertainty leaves many couples struggling with high levels of stress. When stress is a normal part of daily living, couples become immune to warning signs. Ignoring stress doesn’t make it go away; in fact, it’s contagious. When one partner is overwhelmed, the other reacts to it. Regardless of whether that stress is caused by the government or your own family, partners argue more, withdraw from each other, and become more disconnected, frustrated, and angry.
Family members depend on the health of the marriage. If you have small children or are caring for elderly parents, it’s important that partners check in with each other instead of ignoring signs that their partner is struggling with stress. Your relationship is an anchor keeping you safe from the world’s insanity at times, so protecting it is a priority. Here are suggestions that can help you stabilize your relationship from outside stress.
- Recognize signs of stress in each of you and commit to working together to resolve them. Are you irritable, moody, drinking or eating more, or withdrawn? These are signs that you’re overwhelmed with stress. Turn toward your partner to discuss how you feel.
- Comfort first. Trying to fix someone or their situation isn’t as successful as fixing it together. Talk with your partner and listen to them without interruption. Telling your partner, “I understand why that makes you anxious,” is more effective than, “You should do this.” Part of what causes worry is the inability to control or fix it. No one can control the political climate, climate change, or illness that happens within your family.
- Create a list of stress-reducing rituals. What makes you feel relaxed? What makes your partner calm down? Activities such as reading, watching your favorite television show, or taking a hot bath are de-stressing mechanisms.
- Make additional emotional deposits into your relationship. Stressful times demand extra TLC from your partner. When your partner is overwhelmed with everything going on, pay special attention to validating, encouraging, and appreciating them more than less stressful times.
- Maintain healthy boundaries with keeping the outside world outside your relationship. Keeping your relationship strong means protecting it from outside influences. Guard against common invaders, such as late-night work demands, meddling family members or friends, or excessive screen time. You control what sources you allow into your relationship.
- Keep track of your personal stress temperature. When both partners are stressed with life, it becomes more challenging to help each other. Calm yourself first because you cannot possibly help another if you’re coming from a fragile place yourself.
Facing life challenges can be overwhelming at times. When partners feel connected and supported going through life’s difficult times, they report higher marital satisfaction and deeper emotional connection, which can minimize the effects of stress.