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Caring for our Couple Relationship: Handling Stress


by Carl and Nancy Terry
certified Better Marriages Leader Couple

Stress is always present.  But more so now with the COVID-19 virus and less opportunity to socialize and be with family and friends.  There is also more awareness of racial and social injustice and how that has impacted our lives in the past and presently.  There are no simple answers to these stresses, but we would like to share some thoughts and ideas about stress and the handling of stress.

Believe it or not, having some stress is important, because we are motived and empowered to do something.  Too much stress leads to frustration and anxiety. Too little stress leads to boredom and stagnation.  Stress impacts us Physically through headaches, stomach aches, sleep issues, etc.  Cognitively, we are not able to concentrate. Emotionally, we are more easily irritated and frustrated. Another way that stress impacts us is Behaviorally. We eat or drink too much or act out our stress.  The fact is that we either control our stress or it controls us.

Couples often do not share their stresses with each other. We tend to think we should be able to resolve on our own. We are not responsible for partner’s stress, but we can be helpful in supporting them and listening to them as they work through it.  If stress is a shared one like parenting, finances, etc. then it is best dealt with together. This process helps us become more intimate.

Enough about stress, let us share how to handle it. First, it is important to share the stresses with each other.  Use the communication skills we have shared – Using I messages and Listening. Identify the stress as your own and share with your partner. Decide what can be changed and what cannot.  Then prioritize what needs to change.

Sometimes the sharing may lead to disagreements and conflict.  We will share more about that next time.

Some personal stress busters:

  • Take a walk, ride your bike, exercise, dance, yoga stretches
  • Deep breathing. progressive relaxation, meditation
  • Sing a song, listen to relaxing music, play an instrument
  • Eat healthy foods, have a cup of tea,
  • Take a nap, Get plenty of sleep
  • Sit in the sunshine, listen to the birds, look at flowers, watch children playing
  • Laugh out loud, read the funny paper
  • Do something you like, read a book, watch a movie, paint, or draw a picture

Remember the Serenity prayer:   Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

For more information about managing stress, check out the self-paced on-demand, online course Managing Stress Together








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