Dealing With Relationship Stress

stressed coupleOften relationship stress can be caused by ‘you’ and we can be very defensive in our own natural protection by falsely assuming the problem is because of someone or something else.

Whether the relationship stress is coming from a conflict with your spouse, your parents, children, friends, co-workers, employees, boss or even a total stranger, the secret is how to deal with it.

We often do not see the role we play in any conflict that may be causing stress, it could come from hidden conversations or just actions or patterns that we have. But in coping with relationship stress we need to consider all the possibilities and deal the the problem. The point is we need to be able to look at our personal contribution on how we contribute to any stressful situation within a relationship.

Define the Problems that Cause Relationship Stress

Define – The first step in dealing with any relationship stress is to define the problem, in other words make it specific by saying or writing down what is causing you to “stress”. For example “My husband never talks to me” or “My boss hates me” or “I’m in love with X but he/she is not interested”. Whatever is causing you stress needs to be put on the table and examined if you are going to solve the problem.

Accepting – The next step is to assume that you are part of the problem, which means you need to assume that you are causing the problem to be worse that it is and it is not only the other person’s interest or lack of interest that is the cause of the problem.

Specify – This can be difficult because now you have to identify specific conversations or action patterns within you that are causing the relationship problem to occur. This can be tough because we need to be able to see ourselves how others see us and not just how we see ourselves.

Remind – This step may sound a bit strange but you need to remind yourself that these hidden patterns exist in your body and not your mind. This is important as we start to slowly deal with the cause of the problem.

Action – Once these “hidden causes” have been identified you need to take action in order to neutralize these hidden causes. For example disrupt automatic behavior patterns and create or put a relationship enhancing spin on these “hidden causes.”

Get Help – You need to get some help when steps 1 – 5 do not work at all; even after repeating them several times you then need to seek help from a councilor, therapist, and HR expert depending on the nature of the problem.

It is important to note that each partner generally plays a role in any relationship problem or conflict that occurs between them, both can usually benefit from adopting a “feedback” perspective. Obviously this is not always possible but it would be the most effective way of dealing with any stressful relationship.

Recognize destroying patterns that lead to stresses in a relationship

Many of us think that we can make any relationship work with anybody if we have to, but the truth is that most of us have been “programmed” to fail in our interpersonal relationships. The result is that if we follow our automatic tendencies, we will destroy any union that matters to us eventually.

To succeed in our relationships, therefore, we must learn to recognize and deal with the hidden relationship-destroying patterns within us. Not only must we know how to deal with these patterns in ourselves, but we must also know how to deal with similar patterns in other people as well. It is very important to recognize the desire you may or may not have in any relationship to “control” the relationship. This could be small unconscious or conscious efforts to control other people and to behave in certain ways. This can cause stress as we get angry, resentful or depressed when we are unable to effectively change someone.

Being Critical and Judgmental

We are also very critical and judgmental of other people. Internal conversations such as Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, Cause/Effect, and Perfectionism commonly contribute to our interpersonal problems. Often we will find that what works at the way you work when you are performing your work you are paid to do is not the way you conduct your relationships and that could be the source of the problem.

There are certain tricks that can avoid the relationship stress you may experience. That is to be able to recognize these patterns that can occur within any relationship, sometimes these can happen very quickly and we need to be aware of how to deal with it.

couple arguingPlaying the Blame Game

Something that can cause a relationship to destroy itself very quickly between two people is the tendency to blame someone or something other than them-selves with difficulties occur. It is a patter that is not easy to resist and the only way to be successful at it is by being conscious of the “blame-game” and how it works.

The most important aspect of a healthy relationship is “feedback” and when you are blaming another person partially or completely it will have an immediate effect on this “feedback”. It is important that you realize that human relationships are not things that are good or bad or satisfying or unsatisfying within themselves.

They are processes that evolve over time and their outcomes are determined by the behavior of their components. Any “good” or “bad” qualities that we might attribute to our relationships are not fixed or immutable characteristics, they are temporary states that are always subject to change.

When we blame either our partner or our “relationship” as the source of our dissatisfaction, we not only fail to acknowledge how we may have contributed to our problems, but we also fail to see that we often have the power to successfully resolve them.

Opposites Attract – Can Lead To a Stressfull Relationship

Often we are attracted the opposite kind of person that we are, for example if you are intellectually orientated your partner will most likely be sensation-emotion orientated. There are many examples of this but the reason it works like this is because when we “fall in Love” we hope that their strengths and abilities will become available to us.

This relationship quickly becomes built on these opposites or strengths of the individuals within the relationship, but this can change from respecting and appreciating your partner’s differences to you, you begin to judge them. Which starts to break the fundamental principals on which the relationship was built on in the first place as you start to try and change the person you love into what you think you would like.

This pattern actually makes no sense at all but is very common as we see in many relationships what starts out as a necessary joining of two opposites can become two people pulling in opposite directions. The result can be divorce or a severing permanently of a relationship which could have been very healthy and productive.

Discrediting your Partner

Another relationship-destroying pattern that can add greatly to relationship stress is to discredit your partner’s opinions and points of view. Most people who fail to deal with this pattern have trouble maintaining successful interpersonal relationships.

Simply wanting to be correct about everything is not possible and it is our desire to achieve this that we will eventually fail at all inter-personal relationships because nobody can be correct or right about everything all the time. Because in order to be right you have to view other people’s thoughts, feeling and opinions as wrong or invalid if they differ from yours. The secret to dealing with this hidden cause of stress is to:

  • recognize when this pattern has been triggered within you.
  • resist the temptation to act upon it.
  • do the exact opposite – i.e. consider that other people are “right” rather than “wrong” as much as possible. While this may appear like a foolish thing to do, most people benefit from creating this context.

With more than half of every marriage landing up in the divorce courts it is obvious that love is simply not enough to have a successful marriage. The qualities and skills required in order to create a happy successful marriage are sensitivity, generosity, consideration, loyalty, responsibility, trustworthiness etc. These virtues are developed over time and the marriage is a constantly changing thing that needs a combination of skills that are more than just “love”.

Help reduce relationship stress using relaxation techniques

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