Being in a healthy, fulfilling relationship can be one of the best things for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Finding the right person to spend time and share your life with has the potential to have a compounding effect on the rest of your life – it can put you in a state that makes you more productive at work and generally happier overall.
When people in a relationship have a disagreement, however, it can cause a lot of stress that has the ability to impact your life negatively. Finding ways to manage this stress is critical for you to navigate your relationship in a way that leaves both you and your partner happy and fulfilled. Let’s take a closer look at how to deal with stress in a relationship.
First take your own mental health into account
Strong relationships can often benefit your mental health, so dealing with the stress in your relationship can help your own mental health. But if you have mental health issues, managing those can potentially lower your stress levels and, in turn, help your relationship. Negative stress buildup can often result in mental health issues. Before you address the stress in your relationship, it may help to identify your own individual issues you’re dealing with. Heal yourself before trying to repair your relationship.
When you’re physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy, you’re more likely to be a contributor to healthy, positive relationships.
Confront the obvious problem
If there’s an obvious problem the two of you are in the middle of, it helps to bring it to the forefront and have a tough conversation about it. Some common issues that lead to stress in relationships include issues related to finances, work, or planning about the future. If something is bothering one or both of you, it’s a better idea to bring it out in the open than to let the negative feelings fester. It may lead to some emotional discussions, but ultimately, having an honest, transparent conversation is more productive toward decreasing both of your stress levels.
Talk about the obvious problem (and root out any underlying issues)
Sometimes, an obvious problem that spurs an argument or stress acts as window dressing for a more serious, troublesome underlying issue. There could be a problem that thus far hasn’t been discussed.
The best way to deal with this? Talk about the obvious problem (or problems) until you get to the heart of the matter. This can take time, and they aren’t easy conversations. But having these conversations can help make your relationship less stressful, especially if you both understand where the other is coming from.
Spend more time together
If you and your partner are going through a stressful time, consider spending more time together. Relationships can experience great stress when both parties are busy and fail to make time in their schedules for the other person.
It’s also important to make sure this time is quality time that includes interpersonal interaction. In other words, make this “no phone” time. Ensure you spend your time talking to one another rather than focusing on external stimuli. Prioritize activities that encourage participation and discussion. Order takeout for a romantic evening in or schedule a couples’ massage when it’s safe to do so. Even if you’re not working out your problems, talking and spending time together can help build intimacy and bring you closer together, lowering your stress levels.
If you’re going through a stressful patch with your partner, consider participating in a physical activity together. Not only can this build rapport, but it can help you both engage in strenuous physical activity. Sports like tennis, golf, or even something as simple as jogging can help get you both in better shape, get closer, and burn stress all at the same time. Consider experimenting with couples’ workout ideas.
Take time to yourself
While spending more time together can be helpful if partners are having a hard time connecting, sometimes the opposite is true. Often, partners that spend too much time together can leave one or both feeling smothered. It helps to give each other space. Establishing a healthy relationship means both sides respect boundaries set by the other person.
It’s normal to have your own friends, interests, or activities. If two people are together all the time, it might make it difficult for each person to embrace and maintain their own individualism. While being together is something you both should want to do more of, it’s also important to keep your own identity. That can involve doing things on your own, without the other person.
Plan a vacation together
Perhaps your relationship-based stress is due to both of you spending the majority of your time working. If this is the case, you may want to consider planning a vacation or trip together. You can go somewhere with special meaning for both of you as a couple, or you can pick somewhere neither of you has ever been to create new memories.
A couple’s vacation won’t just help you cut down on your stress. It can also help you and your significant other grow closer. You can collaborate to plan the trip. It gives you something to work on together as well as something to look forward to.
This is obviously a lot more difficult while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, but you can always improvise. Airbnb offers great options for remote getaways where you can still maintain social distancing.
Talk about the future
When you’re figuring out how to deal with stress in a relationship, you may realize that both people have different ideas for the future. Perhaps one person has more of a long-term vision in mind while the other person is more focused on casual dating. This lack of alignment can lead to discomfort and anxiety for both people.
This can be an uncomfortable topic to bring up, but if a relationship advances without having this discussion, it can lead to hurt feelings and confusion. It’s not a discussion you want to have prematurely, but once a relationship has progressed past a certain point, both parties owe it to each other to discuss what they want from the future.
What if your ideas don’t match up? That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break up. People’s needs and wants can evolve over time. If a couple enjoys being together and has otherwise good chemistry, they can always discuss compromising on what they want.