The stress you feel in your relationship may be common: here are 9 driving causes and what to do about them.
Firstly, you’ll need to understand that you’ve both bought to the table your own exclusive set of differences, your:
- own family upbringing
personal values and beliefs
- individual goals for the future
- past experiences which contribute to who you are today
- general likes and dislikes
- notions about how practical things should be done
- ideas about where your boundaries are and what you will tolerate
- experience of gender and age
- work commitments and professional aspirations
- individual personality and traits
- strategies for coping with issues
- personal communication
- sexual preferences
You’ll need to maintain your own uniqueness and separate self, and at the same time know when to put these on the back-burner for the benefit of the relationship.
Relationship stress can cause you to…
- Feel like the relationship isn’t working
- Doubt if you’re with the right person
- Feel like the thoughts keep going around and around in your head with no solution
- Doubt other thoughts and decision making
- Want to avoid your partner and certain situations
- Want to avoid intimacy with your partner
- Feel generally unhappy and unsettled
- Turn to things like alcohol and other negative ways to cope
Here are 9 causes of relationship stress and what you do can about them:
- If your finances are tight, financial stress will be changing the way you feel about the relationship. Resentment builds as each of you struggle for your fair share. You’ll be able to get rid of the stress by putting in clear boundaries around who spends what and who contributes what, making sure no-one breaks the agreement.
- Sex is high on the list of the things that cause couples stress. You’ll need to have some really hard conversations about how this will be compromised. Your partner’s needs shouldn’t dominate yours and vice versa.
- You may be feeling that the relationship is struggling to balance work demands and household or other commitments. Clearly divide up a list of who is responsible for what, making it as fair as possible. You’ll both need to commit to doing your list with no excuses.
- When your free time is in short supply, demands made by in-laws, other family members or friends can cause relationship stress. Often, you’ll feel that the time given to your partners family or friends is unfairly balanced. Try to make things as fair as possible but you’ll also need to be compassionate and try and give your partner the gift of understanding his/her need for social connection.
- If your partner is from a different religious, ethnic or cultural background, you may be finding that these differences cause you some level of angst at times. This is difficult to balance but try and remember that each person has the right to live the values that are important to them, as long as they don’t impact too heavily on you.
- If you or your partner are having physical health, or psychological issues, you can feel like the relationship is heavily weighing on you and causing you stress. Try to get the problems resolved quickly – often we put this off. Put in some self-care strategies to help you manage until the problem is resolved.
- You bring into the relationship your own individual expectations of how your life should be. These ideas and values are often different from those of your partner. You’ll both need to compromise for the benefit of the couple, and be prepared to put some of your needs aside when it’s important to your partner.
- If you’re more extroverted and your partner is more introverted (or vice versa), at times you’ll be at odds over social needs and things you both want to do. The disparity causes relationship stress as you both compete to get your way. Concentrate on what attracted you to your partner in the first place. Return to the things you enjoyed together at the start – you both might still enjoy them.
- Differing personality styles and traits make co-dwelling a challenge unless both of you can authentically accept the nuances of the other. If the differences are causing you a great deal of stress, get a professional involved to help you set some fair ground rules.
If you can’t get rid of the relationship stress on your own…
Relationships can be hard and it’s reasonable to accept some level of relationship stress. They are supposed to bring joy and value to our lives, and make us a better version of ourselves.
But, if you’re feeling like the stress is impacting on other parts of your life, it’s been going on for too long or it’s getting difficult to withstand, then you’ll probably need to seek outside help to get the relief you deserve.