Who hasn’t dreamed of the perfect fairytale life with an easy-going relationship? Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple and throws curveballs instead. These curveballs interrupt the happiness you’ve created with the person you love. What can you do to keep outside pressure from hurting your relationship? Equip yourself with the right mindset and a few helpful strategies to keep it all in perspective.
Below are six tips for keeping a strong relationship during stressful times:
1. Same Team Mindset
My husband and I argue the most when work gets stressful. For me, it’s hard to feel like a team when I’m wrapped up in deadlines, client demands, writing, and trying to balance it all with our chaotic life. During these times, I intentionally reset my thinking to a “same team” mindset. First, I remind myself of my priorities in the relationship and distinguish the stress I feel from what happens between my husband and me. Then I incorporate my husband into strategizing against the stress because, after all, he’s on my team.
Life’s obstacles are opportunities to offer additional love and support. Rally the team to come up with creative, stimulating solutions to stressful situations. Ask for help when you need it and offer to help your partner. Having the “same team” mindset lightens the weight you have to carry because you share it with your teammate.
2. Send Your Lover More Praise
One of the quickest ways to help your partner release stress is to get excited about your partner’s achievements. Enough is never enough! Build a habit of enthusiastically acknowledging your lover’s successes – from the tiny ones to the huge ones. Being a good teammate includes being a cheerleader. Cheering on your partner unites the two of you in happy moments and shifts focus from stress to success. This strategy can strengthen the bond with your partner, so don’t be surprised if it also creates more closeness in the bedroom!
3. Communicate With More Than Words
Stress makes communication difficult. When your brain is constantly running through your “To Do” list, you can’t give undivided attention to what your partner is saying. Keep this in mind when miscommunications inevitably happen. Stress makes us forgetful, so a system of gentle reminders about important dates, appointments, and errands can help avoid arguments later. Also, pay attention to body language. If you need to discuss something difficult and see your partner slumped over, head down on the couch after a long day, consider waiting until the morning. If you notice that your partner is quieter than usual or rushing through conversations, give them the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can during a stressful time. For the unavoidable arguments, create a shortlist of ground rules that encourage healthy conflict resolution. Read Fighting Fair for tips on having productive arguments.
4. Release Unrealistic Expectations
It’s easy to have an idealized view of the person you love–you fell for them for a reason. The reality is that no one is perfect, and stress increases the number of mistakes we make. Learn to love the flaws. We all have them and pointing out every error that your stressed-out partner makes helps no one. Couples are happier once they learn to laugh at their mistakes and figure out how to fix them together.
5. Create a Peaceful Space
Managing stress within the relationship includes practicing self-care. Creating a peaceful space is a valuable tool in keeping stress in check. For example, light candles in the bathroom for a nightly bubble bath, design a dedicated meditation or yoga room or sip tea next to your favorite flowers on the patio. Prioritize the simple things that ease tension in your shoulders and slow down the thoughts running through your head.
6. Have Fun Together
What do you and your partner do for fun? Finding a few hours to laugh and play with your lover can increase your productivity. This strategy is great for busy schedules because not only does having fun relieve stress, but it counts as quality time. Engage in the activities that bring you the most joy and be fully present for them. It can be as simple as dancing in the living room or pulling out an old board game. Who knows, a fun game night may end in a night of passion, which is another great stress reliever!
Stress does not have to destroy a relationship that you’ve worked hard to create. Nor does it have to ruin your sanity. If you’re struggling with stress and burnout, talk to a coach or therapist about it. With the right mindset and some lifestyle tweaks, you can drastically change the pressure you and your relationship face.