How Should Couples (Not) Deal With Stress?

Have you ever been in the situation where yours or your partner’s reaction to stress is negatively impacting the relationship? Researchers from The University of British Colombia have recently published a study identifying behaviors which boost the instances of marital conflict, particularly with relation to work stress or other stressors which begin outside of the relationship.

Do you identify with “ruminating”? This is one of the stress-induced behaviors which is not good for the health of your relationship. Researchers define rumination as “repetitive and persistent thinking about one’s feelings and problems.” This means that your reaction to stress is to dwell on it repetitively and think only about how bad the situation is or how much your life stinks because of it.

Rumination hurts your ability to move on and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere with your partner and those around you. It means that the stress is taking center stage while the health of your relationship is in the wings.

The second behavioral indicator that increased conflict between partners is withdrawal. This often goes hand in hand with rumination as withdrawing from communication with your partner will fuel the likelihood that you sit around and ruminate!

Tuning each other out when stressed can be a slippery slope for relationships. Have you ever noticed that if one is silent and withdrawn, the other will often go into their shell too? This can create a toxic environment, more likely to tear down rather than build up a relationship.

So, in the interests of keeping strong, healthy relationships, what do the researchers suggest couples do to deal with stress? It’s all about being in it together, talking it through and taking a collaborative approach to problem solving (something you will find is suggested by every single relationship expert out there too!).

As individuals, if we want to remain on good terms with our partners it is up to us to resist the temptation to withdraw and dwell on our stress. Your own reaction is up to you. Keep open lines of communication – importantly, while you acknowledge that stress is part of normal life, make sure you are not alienating your partner with your behavior.

Want more quick tips and tools for reduction of stress? Discover the simple steps of stress management here