Managing Stress from Within Your Relationship

Reduce stress in your relationship by reassessing the state of your partnership.

Reduce stress in your relationship by reassessing the state of your partnership.

Reduce stress in your relationship by reassessing the state of your partnership.

Building trust through stress management is one of the greatest gifts you can give each other. Your relationship may be a massive source of stress as well. If this is the case, you are certainly not alone. 

If you have been meaning to change something about your relationship, but just haven’t had the time to get around to it, now is the time. Remember that your relationship is constantly evolving as you and your partner spend more and more time with one another. Your individual likes and dislikes may change more than you think. Reassess the state of your relationship, paying particular attention to how you both felt over the past year. What was most satisfying? Most frustrating? Have you been sexually satisfied recently? If not, what would you like to see changed? What does your partner feel about each of these topics? Don’t have this conversation all at once to avoid making it a source of stress. Be open to talking about these issues regularly. Make it a habit.

Communication is important when discussing these topics, as feelings of discontent may elicit a defensive response. Take turns letting each other speak, uninterrupted. Once you have each had a chance to voice your opinions, respond to each other’s comments. Do not make targeted suggestive attacks like “I don’t like the way you…” or “You need to…” Instead, make the conversation about your relationship as a whole by using positive statements like “I think we could…” or “We need to…” When “you” is changed to “we,” the conversation involves both parties. You become a team. When you are a team and you don’t attack one another, you learn to trust each other. 

Before making goals for reducing stress, here are three tips to consider: 

Set realistic expectations

Do your best to think about the things you’d like to change as well as what a realistic change would look like. If you and your partner are struggling, don’t expect change to happen overnight. However, make a long-term commitment to each other. Talk to each other about where you want your relationship to be in two months, six months, and by the end of the year

Set both specific and holistic goals

Good resolutions focus on specific details as well as the bigger picture. While having a stronger relationship may be your ultimate goal, improving the way you communicate about your day at work or the way that you decide which TV show to watch at night make for specific goals that are attainable. Relationships are complex. Break your resolution down into smaller goals and it will seem less daunting.

Focus on the means, not just the ends

One of the best ways to set goals is to focus on the means of getting to where you want to be, not just focusing on where you want to be. Improving your relationship is a constant process. Enjoy the process of getting to know your partner on a more intimate level.

Now that you’re prepared to make resolutions for your relationship, what exactly do you want to change? How will you reduce the stress in your life that is caused by your relationship? Here are resolutions designed to improve the overall experience of your relationship with an emphasis on improving your sexual happiness and healthiness. Choose some of these or develop some of your own. Simply apply these ideas to the areas you feel are in need of change. Whatever your decision, what is most important is that you are both committed to achieving the same end goal.

  • Make it a priority to nurture the fondness and admiration in your relationship. Fondness and admiration are crucial to the long-term happiness of a relationship because they prevent one of the Four Horsemen called contempt from becoming an overwhelming presence in your life.
  • Make it a priority to talk openly about sex with your partner. Intimate conversation builds emotional connection, leading to more passion in your lovemaking. Make it a priority to communicate more openly with your partner about your sexual needs and desires, specifically the way in which you communicate during sexual intercourse.
  • Make it a priority to pay more attention to your partner’s bids for emotional connection.

The Gottman Institute’s Editorial Team is composed of staff members who contribute to the Institute’s overall message. It is our mission to reach out to individuals, couples, and families in order to help create and maintain greater love and health in relationships.