What are the effects of stress on a Relationship?

It’s normal for all relationships to have daily stress?

Everyone experiences stress in their everyday life. We need stress to raise performance and get things done. Most stressors and the experience of stress is normal. All couples experience stress. Stress comes from daily problems at work, family and or friends that we bring into our relationships. There is a point at which stress shifts from being normal and becomes an issue in a relationship. It’s when the stressor starts to negatively affect mood, sleep, and the showing of love and affection which may lead to arguments. Stress can come from the couple’s issues, such as an argument, differences in wants or needs, or feeling neglected. Financial issues, trust concerns, long work hours etc all become stressful for a couple. 

The negative impact of stress on relationships

Given that stress is common, it can potentially be harmful to relationships. Communication is key; unless you are identifying and expressing what is causing stress, you and your partner will begin to suffer the negative impact of it. You may start to become frustrated, short-tempered, angry, argumentative and even selfish. Just like a virus, we will in turn, infect each other and both our experience of negative stress will be escalated. You will say things you wouldn’t normally say and emotional damage will be done. Couples then get stuck in this negative cycle and may be too stressed to deal with the underlying issues.

The positive impact of stress

Rising tensions and the pressures of life can have a positive effect if managed correctly. Experiencing stress doesn’t mean your relationship is going to suffer. Rather, your perception of stress is key to the outcome. Seeing the stressful situation as a challenge that you can overcome is important to managing stress. By viewing stress as an opportunity for learning about a deeper understanding of each other is key. It’s through these experiences that couples learn what they need from each other and show one another that they are cared for, valued and understood. Having a partner who understands you and responds to your needs is ultimately what couples should be striving towards. 

The key to surviving stress is how we manage it

It’s important for couples to have a regular “check-in” to identify and talk about what causes their stress and what they need to manage it. Although it might be difficult to talk about what is causing stress, particularly if it is caused by your partner, it is important to talk what may be causing distress and what can be done about it. Couples that make a habit of doing is are most likely to succeed.

What can you do?

Here is a daily/weekly checklist that may help: 

  1. Be aware of what you are experiencing and if you are stressed. 
  2. Check in with each other as to how you are both doing.
  3. Listen first before you offer solutions.
  4. Ask your partner what they expect of you to help them.
  5. Communicate often and stay connected during stress. Talking about it and having a supportive partner by your side makes you and your relationship stronger.
  6. Maintain physical contact during stressful times. It’s been proven that hugging, holding hands and all physical intimacy can help reduce stress and make you feel connected and calmer.