You may remember when you saw your future mate for the first time. Or you might remember the moment you realized that this was the person you were destined 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 cling to for the rest of your life.
Then, reality sets in. Perhaps it occurred during the first month of your marriage. Or perhaps it happened within a year of your betrothal. It might not have occurred 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 may be tensions over finances, tensions over the rearing of children, tensions over where to live. At times, the friction may seem frivolous—you might be engaged in a knock-down, drag-out fight over who’s responsible for the overflowing toilet. Or you could have serious issues, such as a disagreement on when to have a child.
While we would all like marriage to be a blissful experience, the fact of the matter is that it is a situation ripe with stress. There is the daily stress of simply trying to live together in harmony, in addition to the occasional strains over various disagreements. The tension can be magnified if you or your loved one have just been diagnosed with cancer or a serious heart condition. If your child has just been arrested for drug possession, the tensions between the two of you can also escalate.
Luckily, 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. A number of couples benefit from scheduling a “date night” when they make sure that they spend a few hours alone. The date night can include dinner, dancing, or just a walk in the woods. The important thing is to simply re-connect, 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, using nautilus equipment, or bowling, exercise can be relaxing and can help you to better manage your stress level. 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.
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? The important thing is to keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your spouse. But, if you still find yourself to be under a great deal of stress, consider consulting an outside party. For instance, you might try to schedule a session with your pastor in order to hash out the differences between yourself and your mate. Or you might consult a marriage therapist who is an expert at helping to resolve differences between spouses. You must recognize, however, that such sessions require 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—a divorce you might regret later on. Make a commitment to deal with marital stress as soon as it appears. That way, you can work to ensure that small problems do not lead to big ones, exacerbating your stress. By following some simple steps, you can re-charge your batteries, reduce your stress, and fall in love with your spouse all over again.