3 Tips for Making Relationships Less Stressful

Photo By JOHN POWELL / REX FEATURES

Relationship stress is everywhere today, hence the 45% divorce rate. It can also affect your health and well-being. Providing practical tips for managing this stress is what this post is about.

So what’s the big deal about relationship stress?…

Not too long ago we shared with you a blog post called “Waiting Until It’s Bad Enough”. In it we asked the perplexing question, “Why do people wait until it’s bad enough – often until they are on the verge of divorce – before they act to get the relationship they want?”

As if to add an exclamation point to this inquiry, psychological research has demonstrated the urgency of getting your intimate relationships on track sooner rather than later.

Can illness really be linked to relationship stress?

Here’s the essential background. In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe were curious about the link between common causes of stress and the onset of illness. They scoured 5000 medical records, interviewed patients and confirmed their results using tests involving 2500 U.S. Naval personnel. Their work is still highly-regarded today.

This effort led Holmes and Rahe to create a ranked list of the 43 most stressful life events. Here’s what their research uncovered:

Finding #1: We know relationships can be stressful. Check out just how stressful…

Through their research, Holmes and Rahe found that 5 of the top 10 most stressful life events, including the top 3, relate to changes in relationship status. According to the “Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale” the leading causes of stress are:

1st – Death of a spouse
2nd – Divorce
3rd – Marital separation

These were followed in 7th place by “Marriage” and in 9th place by “Marital reconciliation”.

Finding #2: When stress is at play, health stays away.

The researchers found a “positive correlation” existed between the simultaneous presence of several of the 43 stressful life events they ranked and the onset of illness.

Finding #3: There’s no time like the present to cut stress out.

The study by Dr’s. Holmes and Rahe suggested that the time lag between the occurrence of the stressful events and the onset of illness could be as little as 1 year.

What can you do today to manage and reduce stress in your relationship?

This study punctuates the importance of managing / preventing stress caused by changes in relationship status and doing so sooner rather than later. It’s about your well-being, your happiness, and quality of life as well as that of your partner and your family.

Here’s a few practical relationship stress reduction pointers from the “Between Men and Women” Couples Relationship Retreat:

1) Remember…men and women are different in every way.

If you hold your partner, kids, or co-workers to your expectation of how they should be or behave, you’re bound to be disappointed, frustrated and stressed. Men and women are perfect just as they are. Honour the possibility that when your partner acts a certain way, it’s not personal to them (i.e., it’s not about Bob or Jane doing this or that). It’s simply an action informed by who they are as a man or a woman, and there is nothing they can do about it. When your partner is allowed to be him or herself, and you are allowed to be yourself, stress falls away.

2) Every decision a man makes and every action he takes is run through the filter of “Am I likely to win or lose in this situation?” Winning – for instance, making his partner happy, being a great dad, succeeding at work, being healthy – is a motivator and has him feel powerful. Losing – including lacking his partner’s trust and approval, failing at a work project, or money problems, just to name a few – is stressful and has him pull back and shut down. Finding sources of wins is important for keeping his stress levels in check. His partner plays a critical role by looking for wins, and providing encouragement, approval and support.

3) Women run every experience through the filter of, “Is this safe for me / my children / my family / my career?” or whatever is important to her. Are the finances looked after? Is there a plan in place and does she know about it? Is someone in her office making that environment uncomfortable for her? Does she feel comfortable with the new renter who just moved in? Are the kids okay? Questions like these undermine her sense of safety and cause her stress. This stress can show up, for instance, as edginess, a lack of trust in her partner and ultimately her “shutting down”. When she feels safe, however, stress evaporates and her free-wheeling, vibrant and exciting
feminine energy comes out to play. Again, her partner plays a critical role in maintaining and building connectedness, and in creating a safe, judgement free environment.

It’s never too soon or too late to pull the life you want towards you. Get started by using this stuff today, and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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