I’m guessing you’ve heard a lot of people talking about stress lately. Perhaps it has become a regular part of the vocabulary at your own house. “The school administration has unreasonable expectations of us teachers. It’s stressing me out.” “I’m trying to get the new policies implemented at work, but the rules keep changing every five minutes. I’m so stressed!” Your wife surprises you with a beautifully wrapped gift and a cheery, “Happy anniversary, Honey!” What do you do to manage the stress level in your marriage when one or both of you are tense, distracted, and on edge?
Here are some ideas to manage stress:
- Just be there for each other. I remember a three-month period a couple of years ago when I had a life crisis. I saw a wrecking ball headed straight for me and I didn’t know how to dodge it. Sometimes I would just break down and cry. And then, Bob would put his arms around me and ask if there was something he could do. There wasn’t. But just knowing he was standing with me reduced my stress. Having someone who cares, reduces the stress level.
- Give up the notion that you, your household, and your family have to be perfect. It’s a good feeling to get everything on your list checked off. It’s nice to have the house spit-shined. But if it doesn’t happen right now when you’re trying to assist your kids with distance learning and you’re picking up groceries for Mom and Dad so they don’t get contaminated, God will forgive you for letting some other things drop. This might be a good time for a pow-wow with your spouse about what to put on hold to maintain sanity and a gracious attitude toward each other. Also, two perspectives of what stays on the schedule and how perfect it needs to be will add balance. What is most important? Listen to your spouse’s perspective.
- Are you or your spouse getting stressed prematurely about things that may not happen? Worry is a big stress producer, but it doesn’t actually accomplish anything. At the beginning of the pandemic, it looked like I had a major crisis headed my way. I was neither calm nor rational, but I sprang into action anyway! It was Bob’s calm voice that saved the day: “I think you’re moving too fast. Slow down. This may never come to pass.” It never did. I’m really glad I listened to him.
- Just because time is short and money is low, don’t neglect the things you do with and for your spouse. Instead, let the stress pull you together. What can you do for your spouse that would show love and relieve his or her stress? What new activity can you do together? What old activity can you revisit? Bring out the bicycles. Play a game of Balderdash. Look at old photos together. Use the time to build and re-new your relationship.
Is this a stressful time? Yes, it is. There’s no denying it. And stress can be a factor that destroys relationships. However, it can also provide you with meaningful ways to show love for your spouse, show you new ways of working together as a team, and create positive memories that will last long after the stress passes.