13 Tips to Handle Stressful Relationships

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Ideally, relationships are meant to make you feel safe, appreciated, supported and free to be yourself. When the opposite finds a way in, communication becomes a problem, your partner becomes your enemy and the blame game begins. Usually, if not taken care of, this could lead to break-ups or divorce. This happens when stress becomes a third wheel riding on the relationship.

In moderate amounts, stress acts as a feedback system and helps you to fix a problem that you’ve been ignoring and can actually strengthen your relationship. However, once the stress in you relationship gets to the point where start questioning your self-worth or debate whether or not you want to be with the other person, it’s a problem.

But facing that problem is difficult.

A lot of the time, It’s easier to deal with strain from unpaid bills, money, traffic and deadlines, than it is to deal with the stress of a relationship. So, should you just let the stress and anxiety win, and let the relationship you’ve built for so long go down the drain? No necessarily. 

If you feel things are still salvageable, and you want to stay with the other person, here are 13 tips to handle stressful relationships.

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1. Be Prepared for Stressful Moments

Planning for stress in a relationship doesn’t mean you have a new boyfriend or girlfriend on speed dial in case things don’t work out. It actually means that, when times are good, you decide with your partner on how you will handle the dark moments when they come.

That way, you both commit to:

  • Maintain respect for each other
  • Communicate even when you don’t feel like it
  • Keep the relationship instead of looking for exit strategies

The first power is in recognizing that it won’t always be rosy. That way, you’ll handle the pressure with a clearer mind. This allows you to shift focus from the strain to the happy and loving moments you had together. Planning keeps you on guard and gives you a clear focus on the battles you’ll eventually fight.

2. Communication

The role of communication in a relationship cannot be overstated. It helps you to bond and connect more. When your relationship is strained, communicating your feelings effectively will put you and your partner in the know. Sometimes, it’s easy to bottle up your feelings expecting the other person to guess. This worsens the drift and complicates the issue more.

When you share your feelings without being judgmental, your partner will understand you better and the source of the problem can be dealt with. Throw in a bit of humor to dilute the stress by making a joke out of the stressful situation. But only if it’s appropriate. Making light of a serious issue can make things much worse.

Here’s a great video that’ll help you improve your communication skills in your relationship. Having a stressful relationship is not the end. The emotions and feelings involved may seem overwhelming. It is normal and okay. A few adjustments on how you and your partner relate can change everything and restore your love. With just a combination of a few tricks, a stressful relationship can blossom again.

3. Team Work

When the burden of fixing a relationship takes a toll on both partners, panic sets in. You can find that everyone is trying their best to go past the stress but it’s just not working. This can be changed though. By re-strategizing, you’ll realize that you’ll push a bigger load together than when everyone is left to act on their own.

Being on the same team builds trust and confidence, and validates both of your opinions. If the relationship is stressful, then it probably took the both of you to get to that point. Bring your inputs together and the unity of purpose will help you bond more and move past the stress with more power.

4. Intimacy

When nothing in a relationship seem to work out, it’s easy for partners to drift apart emotionally and physically. In order to be sure that you’re on the same team in healing the relationship, both partners should set aside time or make a conscious effort to be intimate.

Resentment can be born out of feelings of being unwanted or feeling unappreciated. Schedule dates and dinners together to just talk. Sexual intimacy shouldn’t happen by accident. Smile at each other often and care for the other person even when it’s hard.

5. Deal With Your Own Stress First

Here’s a scenario: You’re mad at your boss for embarrassing you in the board meeting. When you get home, everyone becomes your enemy and you take it out on your partner. This drags on for too long and suddenly you start feeling like your relationship is a fail. Sound familiar?

It’s very common for partners to compound and drag their personal stress into the relationship. First, learn how to deal with your personal stress and separate the relationship from it. This gives you the perspective and clarity needed to isolate the stress in your relationship as a separate block.

Try some yoga, hit the treadmill, listen to music or even scream. Whatever works to reduce your personal stress, will ease the burden on the relationship.

6. Compassion and Tolerance

Men and women react to issues differently. Some people become quiet and others explode. Some zone out and others eat too much. The path to healing a stressful relationship starts with understanding that your partner is a different person and your way is not always right way.

Once the goal is to salvage your relationship and bring the bliss back, it helps to understand that both of you are putting your best foot forward to help. So accept your partner more as they are, and show more compassion to each other to avoid letting stress ruin your relationship.

7. Flexibility

If you always find yourself yelling at your partner because they refused to do things your way, you could be overstepping.

The biggest part of acceptance is in being flexible enough to accommodate the different ways that could help bring peace to your relationship. Both of you should be open to different ideas put on the table. You should also be willing enough to try them even if you don’t like them.

You never know, what looks like a flop could be the straw that saves your relationship.

8. Draw the Line

Your relationship will improve more if you both learn to set and maintain boundaries. This will protect your already wounded relationship from external pressure.

This could range from family, friends, work, children or even pets. Seriously, whatever seem to be subtracting love deposits should be separated in a healthy way.

9. Stay Positive

Mental attitude is the deal maker or breaker in a relationship. Positivity will shield you from panic and move you to a trajectory of recognizing stress for what it is. It will also allow you to handle it with the hope of attaining balance and healing.

Staying positive in a stressful relationship isn’t easy but keeping your eye on the end goal is a good place to start. Activities like yoga, visualization and simply surrounding yourself with positive energy can rebuild your motivation to restore a calm environment.

10. Support Your Partner

When the relationship feels like work, you tend to forget that your partner is a person too. They still need you help and support to get by. Their stress levels, if not managed, can worsen your relationship.

Care for them more and remind them to take a break. A relaxed partner is easier to work with.

11. The Magic List

We all have lists for almost everything. Be it a dream-partner checklist, shopping list or a bucket list, they help us to remain in perspective. To remind us of our goals and what we think is important to us. Well, relationships should have a list too!

Take a pen and paper and make a list. There’s no set format or a “right” way to do it. Write all the things that you enjoy in the relationship, why you think your partner is an awesome person, all the things that drew you to them, and all the dreams you had for that relationship.

Hopefully, you’ll realize that there’s more to fight for than to give up on. If you both take the task, you’ll start appreciating each other more and focus on the love instead of distractions.

12. Seek Help With Couples Counseling

What happens when you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work? You’re right on the brink of giving up and might even have your bags packed. Don’t give up just yet.

Professional relationship coaches or counselors can give your situation a third ear. You never know, both of you could start seeing issues differently after a few sessions. Seeking help is a not a sign of weakness. Instead, it shows that you are willing to protect the relationship you once believed in.

Sometimes problems in relationships go on for too long when both partners become subjective. A counsellor will give you an objective view and offer possible solutions that are customized for you. Seeing the problem from an outsider’s perspective could make you realize that you were both making a mountain out of mole hills. You might also discover a simple solution that you both overlooked.

13. The Final Straw

Handling stressful relationships will not always end up in a cosy place. When it gets toxic and abusive, there are limits to how far you can let that go. Respect yourself enough to know when to leave.

Monitor the effects it has on you and based on your limits, determine whether or not it is worth it. Sometimes letting go is just the right thing to do. Not all relationships are worth saving.

Final Thoughts

Having a stressful relationship is not the end. The emotions and feelings involved may seem overwhelming. It’s normal and okay. A few adjustments on how you and your partner relate can change everything and restore your love. With just a combination of a few tricks, a stressful relationship can blossom again.

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Additional Resources

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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