You might remember when you saw your future mate for the first time, or the moment you realized that this was the person you were going to marry. Those memories are special reminders of the excitement of a new relationship, of the euphoria that comes when you have fallen in love. They’re moments that you’d like to hold on to for the rest of your life.
Then reality sets in. It might happen during the first month of your marriage, or even during your engagement. It might not occur until five years down the road. In any case, you suddenly find yourself under a great deal of stress and you trace the cause to your spouse. There might be tensions over finances, over the rearing of children, over where to live. At times, the friction may seem unimportant – a disagreement over who’s responsible for the overflowing toilet. Or there could be serious issues, such as when to have a child.
While we would all like marriage to be a blissful experience, it can be a situation ripe with stress. There is the daily issue of simply trying to live together in harmony, in addition to the occasional extra strains over serious disagreements. The tension can be magnified if you or your loved one have just been diagnosed with a significant health problem. If your child has just been arrested for drug possession, the tensions between the two of you might also escalate.
Fortunately much of the stress within marriage is entirely manageable. For instance, you can diffuse a great deal of tension just by making a commitment to spend more time together. Many couples benefit from scheduling a “date night” when they make sure that they spend a few hours alone with each other. The date might include dinner, dancing, or just a walk in the woods. The important thing is to simply re-connect with your partner, to re-discover all those things that caused you to fall in love in the first place.
You might also find it helpful to engage in some recreational activity together. Whether it’s skiing, diving, climbing, bowling, walking, exercise can be relaxing and can help you to manage your stress level better. Exercise also allows you to see your spouse in a different light – as a partner rather than a competitor. In the end, you might find that you are both happier and healthier as a result of exercise. You might even lose weight!
Another technique that can help you to handle marital stress is to schedule a ‘couple’s meeting’ each week. This is a time set aside for re-focusing on your priorities, to discuss any problems that have come up during the week, and to plan ahead for the coming week. At times, you might have disagreements during such meetings. But the important thing is to communicate and to do so consistently.
But what if your marital stress becomes unbearable? Then the priority is to keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your spouse. If you find yourself under a great deal of stress, consider consulting an outside party. For instance, you might try to schedule a session with your minister in order to work through the differences between yourself and your mate. Or you might consult a relationship counsellor who is an expert at helping to resolve differences between partners. You must recognize, however, that such sessions demand a great deal of work and emotional commitment. You cannot expect to attend one session and have your stress go away. It could take months before you are able to get your marital stress under control.
Marital stress is serious business. If not dealt with effectively, it can easily lead to divorce, which you might well regret later on. Make a commitment to deal with marital stress as soon as you become aware of it. That way, you can work to ensure that small problems do not turn into big ones, exacerbating your distress. By following some simple steps, you can aim to re-charge your batteries, reduce your stress, and fall in love with your partner all over