How to Stop Stress From Hurting Your Relationship

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Stress sucks. And when you’re in a relationship and under stress, whether it be from work, family, or other obligations, it can severely affect your relationship. Can I get a huge, DUH? Perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye, though. Two study’s were conducted by researchers Neff and Karney (2009) to understand how couples with different personalities relate to each other in marriage over time, how they handled stress over time, and how it can impact the stability of the relationship. Their big question was: Would couples be more reactive to relationship’s everyday ups and downs while under increased amounts of stress? Stay with me here — I know you’re thinking the results may be glaringly obvious.

The first study looked at data from the daily diary of 146 newlywed couples over the course of seven days. The second study examined the seven-day diary of 82 newlywed couples over the course of four years. This is what they concluded (and you and I were right all along): Relationships exposed to high amounts of stress for a long time are bound to falter, no matter how good each person’s relationship skills are.

During a time of high stress, they were more likely to see the relationship as being negative, not realizing the impact stress was having, and coloring the perception of the relationship itself. Once you remove stress from the equation, people’s positive relationship skills are once again able to take over. Stress is scientifically proven to put a dark cloud over a relationship. If stress is affecting your relationship, here are five tips to help you get everything back on track.

1. Seek support

Instead of pushing your significant other away when you’re under stress, lean on that person for support. Your partner loves you and wants the best for you; pushing your special someone away and isolating yourself because you’re stressed will affect your relationship in the long run, most likely showing them that your stress patterns are unfavorable — possibly leading them to rethink the relationship. If you need some time to yourself to sort things out, simply explain that to your S.O.

2. Do not displace your anger

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Sometimes we treat the people we love the most horribly — not because we’re all terrible people — but because deep down we know that they’re not going to run away from us and will understand. Try not to do this, though. Instead, direct your anger toward the real stress source.

3. Try not to let it affect your sex life

It’s very common for stress to severely affect your sex life. When your mind is under a great amount of stress, your in-between-the-sheets time suffers, because your sex drive takes a nose dive. Try and relax and talk to your S.O. about it, and just take it slow until you’re back to normal. You’ll get there.

4. Do something physical

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I’m not talking about sex, but if you feel up to it, why not? I’m referring to going to the gym or even taking a meditative yoga class to calm your thoughts. Going for a sweat session improves your mood, increases your endorphins (those feel-good hormones), and is meditation in motion; it’ll help get you out of your own head. Exercise not just for your physical health but also your mental health.

5. Talk about it

Although men are known for not talking about their feelings, it might make you feel slightly better to talk to your S.O. about what is stressing you out. You might be surprised how good you feel afterward, even if you’re going out of your comfort zone and sharing feelings you normally would never share. Your S.O. may actually be able to offer you fantastic advice on how to tackle your stress and solve the problem at hand.

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