Marital stress. It’s a relatively new name for a centuries old problem, one that has caused more than it’s fair share of break ups and divorces.
How familiar does this scenario sound?
You get out of the car, slam the door and hold back the tears for that moment you partner comes home.
You don’t care about anything or anyone, you just need to vent and you need someone there who understands you better than anyone else.
You pace a little, then start peeling potatoes and you relax a little as you hear the familiar diesel engine.
You look out the window and as soon as you see the vehicle come up the driveway and hear the slam of his door you understand that he is angry too.
Rage and a sense of injustice fill your body.
How dare he be upset when you need him!
Suddenly marital stress rears its head and you start blaming him for the way you are feeling. He walks in, you snap, he snaps and the night ends in an argument.
Marital Stress 1 : Marriage 0
Stress is everywhere. It’s in our homes, our workplace, our family. There is never enough knowledge, time, money, personnel, understanding, common sense, logic, time, resources, communication, time, happiness, money, comfort… have I mentioned time? Or money?
In fact, look up stress on Google and you get over 143 million results.
Now we all have different stressors and most days these will kick in one at a time like an orderly life.
You have a tough day, he’s there for you, he has a tough day, you get to be the shoulder and everything works in balance.
Some days nothing goes according to plan and the whole day turns to custard. Invariably it is on those worst days that our better half also experiences a tough day.
You both need to relieve the stress and move on, but whose stress takes priority?
How do you stop an everyday stress becoming a marital stress?
1 – Take Ownership
Your stress is your reaction to the world around you. It is not a marital crisis, and it is not your partners fault. If all you need is a cry and a shoulder then get it at the appropriate time.
If your partner comes home fire and brimstone with their own stress to deal with then falling all over them, expecting instant attention is not going to work, and, in fact will probably do more to create tension than relieve it.
Find coping strategies that are fair to your partner. By this I don’t mean exclude them, but don’t lump them with the responsibility of solving all your problems on top of solving all their own.
If you’ve had a bad day, don’t come home and stew on it until your partner arrives. Sit, punch, run, do what you need to do to get on an even keel again, then when they come home talk, or listen, whatever you both need to do.
The better you cope with your stress without having to use your partner as a crutch the happier you will both be, giving you less time moaning about the world around you and more happy, quality time together.
Marital Stress 1 : Marriage 1
2 – Communicate – Nicely
Just because your stress affects you, it doesn’t mean that you bottle anything up either.
If your stress is because of something within your marriage then talk it out. If it is caused by external forces, then talk it out as well.
This way you lighten your heart, while allowing your spouse to enter your emotional space.
While many people find this a frightening prospect, there is nothing more humbling and nothing that builds trust more quickly than letting someone see your faults and feelings.
If you get stressed about the amount of money the groceries cost each week, or feel overworked and under appreciated tell your spouse, that way they will understand when you are tense after shopping or need a period to wind down after work.
However you communicate, be nice and be empathetic. Understand that a rant is just that and unless specifically directed at you, don’t take anything personally.
Marital Stress 1 : Marriage 2
3 – Work as a Team.
One of the biggest factors in marital stress is the unexpected and the constant demands of life and one of the greatest parts of being married is the ability to use teamwork to negate the effects of stressors.
Understand that once you have children your life becomes a series of small events that take up a twenty four hour day.
Some days you may finish the day ten minutes behind. Some days you have to simply give up and try again tomorrow.
Knowing and appreciating this is a way that you can operate as a couple and help each other through the tough patches.
Here are some great ways to relieve marital stress through teamwork;
Some people do not function until they have had a coffee, instead of butting heads against a natural state of existence, give the person a coffee and help them to get started for the day.
When a child is sick and one spouse has a big deadline lined up the other spouse can cover ‘home duties’ and look after the sick child.
If one of you has a job where you work long seasonal hours and shorter off-season hours, then you can both plan and prepare contingency plans around this.
It should involve time out for your partner and may even involve television-free nights and date nights so you still get essential time together as a couple.
When it is the off-season you may cook dinner for your partner and take on a larger share of the running of the home to compensate for their burden during the busy season.
Marital Stress 1 : Marriage 3
By being aware of what triggers stress in each other, you can work to mitigate marital stress leading to a more fulfilled and appreciative relationship.