Relationship stress
How stress causes relationship problems and vice versa

Stress, whether from inside or outside your relationship, is likely to affect the way you think, feel and behave. This invariably impacts on your partner and your relationship - creating a vicious circle. If you're dealing with relationship stress, I'm so glad you've landed here. I can help you to manage this. 

Relationship stress can be caused by a drip-drip effect of, for example:

  • Never-ending criticism
  • Feeling unheard
  • Disagreements over chores
  • Sexual problems
  • Work-related problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Shouting
  • Arguments etc

It can also come about as a result of a crisis, such as an affair, sudden illness, the death of a loved one or other family problems.

Avoiding issues can provide temporary relief, but this may lead in the long-term to a buildup of stress, and reduced resilience when you're confronted with stressful situations. I'm sure you're aware that there are physical consequences too - the impact of stress can make you ill.

Are you stressed or is it your partner?

Printed words, stress, anxiety, depression etc

You and/or your partner may be suffering from stress from external sources. Ultimately, you are each responsible for your own recovery.

If you blame your partner, other people or the situation, you can get trapped in feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. This is unhealthy as you end up wasting precious energy on things you have no control over, instead of focusing on the things you do.

Is your partner - or are you - able to help?

Ideally you'd offer each other emotional and practical support. If your partner appears unable to help and/or support you, try not to judge them. If this is out of character for them, then it may be that your partner's own well-being is not so good at the moment. When you are feeling stressed it can feel as though everybody, including your partner, is out to make life difficult for you!

However, here are some potential alternative explanations...

Maybe unbeknown to you there are adverse family circumstances or stresses at work that your partner didn't want to burden you with. I know from my work with police officers, for instance, that they'd often not want to tell their partner what they've been involved in as it can be too distressing.  It could also be that he or she interprets your stress-related grumpiness as you being angry with him or her.

How to start calming things down

When you get to the point where you just don't want to go home at the end of a working day, or you dread your partner coming through the door, your relationship just won't be satisfying any more. If there are problems in your relationship or marriage, now is the time to sort them out. Continuing to do what you've always done is not going to change anything. I'm afraid wishful thinking will only lead to further relationship stress.

I'd really advise you to consider getting professional help from an experienced couple counsellor if this is your situation. Even if your partner doesn't want to go, you still can - and at the very least you won't feel so alone any more. It can be hugely helpful to discuss, in confidence, what is happening with an expert.

You can telephone, email or chat with an online qualified relationship counsellor right now.

There is also much you can do right now that can make a difference. Firstly we’ll look at things that you can do, and then we’ll look at ways that you can support your partner. 

10 Things you can do to effectively deal with relationship stress

  1. Calm yourself or do whatever you can to calm your partner - as human beings we're much better at finding solutions when we're calm
  2. Accept that your partner can't read your mind. There is now evidence that 'reading someone's face' can be unreliable. Have a look at this research abstract
  3. Understand that your partner is going to react, deal with stress and solve problems differently than you would, even if you don't like or understand their ways!
  4. Realise that your and your partner's time scale may be very different!
  5. Write down your thoughts - it will help you to be more objective. Have a look at my journaling page for further information
  6. Address any external sources of stress 
  7. State clearly if something is really unacceptable to you
  8. Take care of yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising regularly
  9. Engage in meaningful and enjoyable activities, even if it seems too much of an effort to start with
  10. Consider taking some gentle but proven natural remedies: MindSoothe and PureCalm can help relieve the symptoms of depression, tension, stress and anxiety (and there is AngerSoothe too to calm anger and prevent temper outburst too)

Also, you may like to have a look at my page on online hypnosis frequently asked questions. Self-hypnosis is such a great way to help reduce and even cure many a problem.

How to help your partner

5 Things you can do to help your partner cope with stress

  1. Encourage him or her to look at the above 10 ways to deal with stress
  2. Act like a sounding board and refrain from making judgements
  3. Give advice only when asked - you might otherwise only increase relationship stress
  4. Give your partner some extra positive attention to support, inspire and soothe him or her
  5. Remember that what might comfort you might increase someone else's stress levels! Support your partner in whatever way he or she finds helpful, as long as they're not putting themselves or anyone else at risk.

How introverts and extroverts deal differently with stress

An introvert (someone who is more at ease with their own thoughts and feelings) is more likely to be soothed by peace and quiet, and solitary activities.

An extrovert (someone who likes going out, getting involved and being with other people) is more likely to cope by engaging in lively activities.

You are each on a continuum between introvert and extrovert. Try to work towards a balance to avoid the risk of becoming polarised as that will certainly increase relationship stress.

Stress involving your children

I can do no better than let you watch Bruce Feiler's presentation on building happy families. Oh, how I wish I had seen this when I was bringing up my son. It would have SO reduced all our stress levels.

If you and your partner have very different ways of dealing with your offspring, you are potentially making life more stressful for each other. This will help...

You're unlikely to be able to eliminate all stresses in your marriage or relationship. However, since relationship problems are one of the biggest causes of stress, I'm sure you'll agree that it makes sense to deal with them.

Instead of hoping and wishing, why not get some counselling?  It'll be a relief to be able to talk things through with someone completely independent. I am in a sense only next door - just a phone call away.

It's not so much what happens to you, but how you deal with it that makes the difference

Finally

Nothing lasts forever in life - not the good times and not the bad times. I know that you can work towards resolving the issues and keep chipping away at the stress in your relationship.

Do what you can to become the person you want to be.

For more specific relationship advice visit the following pages:

If you're looking for general relationship advice, you'll also find my page 25 Common Relationship Problems useful in helping you to identify exactly what your relationship issues are.

Read my page on problem solving techniques for help on how to deal with specific problems that are causing you to feel stressed.

If you know your relationship needs sorting - have a look at Save My Marriage/Relationship - even if your partner doesn't appear to be interested right now. You can make a difference, all by yourself.

Do you think your partner is just causing you too much stress? Has this always been the case, and do you think it always will be? In that case, I'd really like you to try my Relationship Compatibility Test.

Do you think your partner might be about to leave you? Let me help you to be prepared for this by having a look at How to Try for a Reconciliation. Advanced preparation can help you to avoid spoiling any chance of you salvaging the relationship when it matters most.

Related articles

Is It a Nervous Breakdown?
Fear of Commitment
Pregnant but No Support from Partner
Does Your Partner Suffer from OCD?
Free or Affordable Marriage Counselling
Effective Ways to Relieve and Reduce Stress
How to stop Arguing
Do You Need Anger Management Counselling?
Ending a Longterm Relationship
Are You Having Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

Other helpful links

Are Relationships Good for Your Health? Student British Medical Journal
Psychological Science - Offering support under the radar

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Images courtesy of: Masmett Tallahassee, Symphony of Love