Even if you didnt learn about it in your physiology class back in high school, Im sure youknow what stress is.But a lot of us (myself included) are not quite sure how todealwith stress when it inevitably makes its way into our relationships.
You know what Im talking about.
Sometimes,when you had abrutal day at work, you snap atyour boyfriend for no good reason. When you were so bogged down by family problems, you werenteven in the mood to have sex. When he was so stressed about thefight he got into with his best friend, it felt like pulling teeth trying to hold aconversation with him at dinner.
I interviewed Dr. Pete Sulack, one of the worlds leading experts on stress, to discuss how to deal with stress when itstarts negatively impacting your relationships.
As hellish as it feels when youre in the thick of stressful times, Dr. Sulack wants us to know that a little bit of stress can actually be a good thing for your relationship.It can almost solidify your relationship in a positive way.
When your relationship survivesthe rough patches, youre only going to come out of itwith greatercertainty that the relationship is worth it.
In fact, Dr. Sulack went on to note that a relationship is also a great stress reliever. A positive, supportive, loving relationship is one of the greatest ways to stay resilient in the face ofthe stress that affects us on a regular basis.
That being said, we all know stress is inevitable, so I talked to Dr. Sulack about some tips on how to deal with stress in our relationships:
If youre stressed
It doesnt matter how carefree and easygoing you are; every once in a while, youre going to get stressed.
How do youmake sure that stress doesnt take a negative toll on your relationship?
Well, for starters, Dr. Sulack recommends buildingup your own resilience to stress by taking part in activities tocounteract it. He explains that the real problem starts when you entera relationship with no way to counterbalance the other stressors in your life.
And dont worry, guys. I asked him how to counterbalance.
Turns out, its pretty easy. Just do things that make you feel good: exercise, eat healthy and surround yourself with supportive people who allow you to make mistakes. Make conscious decisions that are going to take you toward where you want to go in life.
All of these small habits, which are really about leading a healthier lifestyle, can actually work to reduce your bodys response to physical stress.That way, you wont bringall of that nasty baggage into your relationship because, well, it wont exist.
That being said, your partner can and should be asupportive personwho isgoing to allow you to make mistakes. Its okay to lean on them every once in a while, just like they should feel okay leaning on you.
Dr. Sulack warns that you just have to make sure youre investing in aperson more than youre taking from them.
In other words, you can obviously lean on your partner, but make sure youre building them upmore often than youre bringing them down with your stress.
If hes stressed
If your significant other is stressed,Dr. Sulack explains that its important that you try your best to serve as a pillar of support for them.
How do you go about doing that? Well, it really comes down to being a positive influence. Help them outwith problems whenever you have a chance, and try to positively affirm them as much as you can.
Dr. Sulack specifically highlighted the importance of positive affirmation, as it is proven to help the body cope with stress more effectively. Go ahead and tellyour partner how wonderful they are; itll workwonders.
Of course, there are going to be times when youre also stressed, and all you want to do is come home and complain about your long, horrible day.
Youll quickly realize, though, that your partner is just as stressed as you are. Dr. Sulack encourages you to do your very best to be the bigger person in that situation. Try your best to come home, andtry to be a positive influence to actually serve your partner.
With all of this being said, its important to remember that a limit does exist here.
If youre constantly taking on your partners baggage without ever getting anything in return, you have a real problem on your hands. Dr. Sulack warns, if someones not investing in your life, and all theyre doing is taking from you, thats abuse.
You shouldnt force yourself to stay in a relationship where you feel like youre constantlytrying to make your partner happy. But every now and again, when your typically-loving partner is going through a hard time, its important to try your best to be there to support them.