Stress is everywhere; it’s unavoidable. Could it be ruining your relationship? Here are 5 signs of a relationship on the rocks… and 5 speedy fixes.
There’s bad and even worse news when it comes to stress and relationships. The bad news is, most people admit to feeling stressed on a regular basis. The worse news is, feeling stressed on a regular basis could spell trouble for your relationship.
In the midst of all this bad news, there is a glimmer of hope: even if stress runs rampant in your life, your relationship isn’t destined to suffer. Knowing the signs that stress is negatively affecting your relationship, and taking quick action to remedy the situation, can prevent it from heading into a downward spiral.
How to tell if stress is negatively impacting your relationship
Whether work, health, or finances cause stress in the life of you or your partner, it can negatively affect the relationship in a variety of ways. Some people feel less close and less comfortable with their significant other when dealing with stress. Dealing with stress also tends to make people feel less sure about the relationships they’re a part of; people with lower stress levels typically feel more secure in their relationships.
Symptoms of stress vary greatly among people and couples. In a healthy relationship, the following five signs could indicate that stress is taking its toll.
#1 You’re always irritable. If most of what your partner says or does ticks you off, or you feel their words or actions are a slight at your expense, stress could be a contributing factor. The longer stress plays a starring role in your life, the more grumpy and/or argumentative you’ll tend to be—and the more likely you’ll be to lash out at others. [Read: 14 really quick stress busters to recharge your mind]
#2 You lose your ability to communicate rationally. If you’re feeling particularly stressed and overwhelmed, your ability to discuss things rationally goes out the window. For instance, a simple discussion about whose turn it is to do the laundry might turn into a complete blowout with screaming, water works, and hurt feelings. This happens because stress actually affects your ability to focus, and promotes negative thinking. Studies show that it even affects your judgment and listening skills.
#3 You feel your entire relationship is a bust. When stress is a regular companion in our lives, we’re more likely to view even the most positive things in a negative light. This goes for a great relationship, as well. Unfortunately, we fail to realize that stress is what’s making us feel our relationships aren’t what they should be.
#4 You find you have a wandering eye. Feeling anxious and overwhelmed has a funny way of making us feel more attracted to other people. We begin to fantasize about being in relationships with people other than the people we love. We begin to think that maybe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. [Read: 10 vital steps to resist temptation in love]
#5 Your phone is your sole focus. When we’re under pressure at work, we spend more time on our phones or in front of our computers. Studies suggest that “technoference” in relationships leads to conflict, depression, and less relationship satisfaction. So, being on your phone when you’re supposed to be watching a movie with your partner could be a sign—as well as a cause—of stress.
How to save your mojo
By now, you’re probably stressing about the fact that stress could be harming your relationship. Stop it! It’s possible to manage the stressors that are negatively affecting your relationship—before they have the ability to do any harm. You have more control over your environment than you think. Even if you can’t change a situation, you can control how it affects you and your partner. By changing your perspective and following the five steps below, you can keep your relationship on a positive track that stress can’t destroy.
#1 Make a plan. When you and your partner are in a good place, create a tentative plan for how, together, the two of you will handle stressful situations. Identify each other’s negative reactions and come up with ways to channel that negativity into positivity. One of the best ways to relieve and reduce stress is to exercise together. [Read: 16 non-sexual touches to relieve stress, and feel more connected]
#2 Reduce your stress. Find ways to reduce your own stress and it will benefit your relationship. Listen to music, read, meditate, or do deep breathing exercises—whatever it takes to bring your anxiety levels to a tolerable level, so it doesn’t affect those around you. Since stress makes us think negatively, the best thing you can do is shift your perspective. Realize that a difficult situation isn’t as terrible as it seems, and you’ll get through it.
#3 Encourage and support your partner. Being in a relationship means you and your partner look out for each other. If you notice your partner is feeling particularly stressed, be supportive and know when to give them space to work things out. Letting your partner know they are cared for helps relieve their stress, which allows your relationship to survive the rocky ride. [Read: 19 life quotes to motivate you to live a much better life]
#4 Prioritize your commitment. It’s possible that you don’t feel like connecting with your partner if you’re feeling especially overwhelmed. In instances like these, it’s best to prioritize things to find out what’s most important. You have to realize that you can’t control everything. Take time to talk to each other and be each other’s support.
Examine what the relationship might look like six months from now if you don’t make time to spend with each other, and if you don’t make your partner a priority. Taking time to look at things this way should motivate the two of you to make time for each other. [Read: Do you feel emotionally drained? 15 reasons and cures]
#5 Seek help. There may come a time when your partner isn’t able to meet all of your needs. They may be too overwhelmed, themselves, to be able to help you effectively—or vice versa. If you aren’t getting the help you need, don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, or even a therapist to get the support and advice you need. Doing so may save your relationship.
While you’ll never be able to control everything, you do possess the power to take responsibility for your actions. Use the guide above to understand and recognize the signs that stress is harming your relationship, and take the necessary steps to prevent permanent damage.