Stress is gross. In general, stress does a lot of terrible things, all of which just generally make us miserable. Stress in a relationship, though, is even worse. When you and the love of your life are having a difficult time and under a lot of stress either because of external circumstances or because of each other, figuring out how to deal with stress in a relationship is the worst.
My husband and I are total opposites when it comes to stress. He likes to breathe, stay calm, and remind himself that it'll all be OK. I like to panic and run around all cranky and upset, wondering why everything sucks. (OK, I don't like to do that, I just do.) Despite our differences, though, the important thing is that we both have figured out ways to deal with our stress together. We are one of those gross, lucky couples, so we are almost never stressed because of each other. Normally, we're stressed because of life circumstances and stuff going wrong outside our marriage.
I am, though, a pretty high-stress person in general, so I've had to find some good strategies to deal with my stress within the context of my marriage. Eating chocolate and sleeping all the time, while also being cranky at my husband, wasn't going to work for me long-term. So here are the five ways I've learned to deal with the stress that inevitably comes along when you're in a relationship.
1. Find An Individual Form Of Release
With any kind of stress, it's important to find a release. No matter how you blow off steam, you need to find a consistent method that works for you for getting rid of the stress. And in the context of a relationship, finding this method is even more important, and ideally, it should be alone.
Of course, the two of you will find ways of working through stress together (more on that below), but when you're really stressed out, you need to learn how to self-soothe and get your head right individually first.
Your method can be as simple as running or yoga, or as complicated as a whole Sunday routine you have to lower your blood pressure. No matter what it is, find a way to do something to relieve your stress without your partner. This will put you in a better head space for when the two of you get together and talk.
2. Get Some Perspective
Despite your stress now, even if it is completely and totally because of and directed at your partner, you know your relationship isn't all bad. The important thing to do is to remember this perspective early on and try to keep it.
Too often, when things are feeling stressful, we start to feel like it's all bad, all the time. But this is almost never the case. (And if it is, you should be thinking about how to get out of your relationship, not about how to deal with the stress within the relationship.)
Figure out a way to remember the good in your relationship. Strategies include sitting down to make a list of all the positive qualities about your partner, talking to a friend about how great they are, or just daydreaming about your first few dates and how much fun they were. Remembering that things are actually good will help you stay calmer through the stress.
3. Talk It Out
This one should be a no-brainer, but it's amazing how many couples don't do this: Talk it out! Sit down and actually talk to your partner about your stress, why you are stressed, and how you can be less stressed. You're in a relationship for a reason: You love and care about your partner. So let them help you in times of stress.
The two of you don't necessarily need to come to a solution in your first talk, but just expressing to them that you are overwhelmed and stressed, as well as why you feel that way, can help you a lot. Knowing that someone is there for you and willing to listen to you is a great thing to feel.
When you talk to your partner about your stress, you'll feel their love and remember why you picked them in the first place. And it will help the two of you move forward and actually find a solution to the stress.
4. Remember To Be Kind
I can be a cranky jerk when I get stressed. Luckily, the longer I've been married, the better I seem to handle this, including getting less cranky, staying cranky for shorter periods of time, and apologizing to my husband right away about my crankiness.
I know stress can easily be overwhelming, and it's pretty common to start taking that stress out on other people. But for a relationship to work, you should remember that your partner has their own stresses, too, and their own stuff they are dealing with. The most important thing you can remember to do is to be kind, as kindness will go a long way in keeping the two of you connected.
5. Figure Out How To Deal With It As A Team
Finally, the most important step to deal with stress in a relationship is to figure out how to tackle it — as a team.
Your stress isn't coming from nowhere. It could be that your partner is doing something in particular to cause your stress. Or it could be that work is really bothering you, but you aren't sure how to handle that stress.
No matter what it is, you and your partner should be able to figure it out together and come to a solution. Maybe it's as simple as your partner adjusting their behavior or you asking for slightly reduced responsibility at work. But know that there is a solution to the stress, even if it may not feel like it right now.
With a good partner in your corner, you'll be able to figure out the solution and implement it to reduce stress.
Stress is never fun, and when you're in a serious relationship, it can feel worse. But having a supportive partner is actually one of the best tools in your arsenal against stress. They love you, they want to see you happy, and if you let them, generally, they can help you figure it all out.
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