Managing the Stress in Your Relationship

If you’re dealing with stress in your relationship, there are healthy coping mechanisms you can implement. What is stress? The stressed definition is experiencing mental or emotional strain or tension.

When I talk about relationship stress and healthy coping mechanisms, I end up talking about relationship traps. Relationship traps are when you’re on a separate page from your partner and your discussions always end in an argument or a dead end.

There are four common relationship traps:

The You Should Trap

The should trap is when someone has a lot of information and they want to share it.

They want to share the information to try and get the other person to think in the same manner. What this trap really ends up doing is dumping a bunch of information on the other person. This may leave the other person feeling overwhelmed and confused. They may go along for a while, but there isn’t a real resolution.

The people who are stuck in the should trap, are the people that will get information from WebMD, the internet, books, and then tell their partner what they should do. This is a short-term solution and adds a problem by adding shame to your partner.

Your partner is an adult and they do things in their own way and at their own pace. Just because it’s not how you would do it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or bad.

The I’m Right, You’re Wrong Trap

The I’m right, you’re wrong trap is when one partner tries to convince the other partner that they are right.

The problem with this trap is someone is the winner and someone is the loser. That is not a resolution. Sure you may win, but this leaves the other person feeling like a loser. This is not a healthy long-term resolution.

The Fantasy-Other Trap

The fantasy-other trap is when one partner thinks the other partner has some kind of magical powers to read minds. This person tries to convince themselves that their partner has known them for so long, and they should know everything about them. Guess what? Your partner can’t read your mind, and they never will.

When you have a problem you have to speak up about it. When you have a need for something, you have to tell your partner. He or she is never going to know what the huffing and puffing or banging things around are about. They’ll never be able to read your mind.

Thinking this way is not an effective resolution, it’s a trap that gets you caught up in mistrust. There is an unspoken agreement between healthy adults that they will speak up when they need something. Even if your partner could read your mind, and they swept in and fixed the problem, it would be invasive. You may have a problem, but you may not need or want help. It’s crucial that you speak up if you want help. He or she is trusting you to do that.

The Fantasy-Self Trap

The fantasy-self trap is the idea that you have some special power to read the future or see the future. People who are stuck in this trap kick the problem and resolution down the road by claiming they know their partner is going to be mad. They know something bad is going to happen if they bring up the problem. So what happens? The problem gets buried and there is no real resolution, which then causes chronic stress.

Someone who ends up in this trap, thinks, “I know what’s going to happen, so I’m not going to say anything,” but you don’t know. If you brought it up once, and it didn’t go well, it’s important to remember, you and your partner are not the same people you were five years ago, five days ago, or even five minutes ago. Who knows what your partner was going through at that time, and it’s your responsibility as an adult to state the problem. If it does go south as you thought, then use one of the bridge statements from this article.

A bridge statement is something along the lines of “this is not how I wanted the conversation to go. I don’t want it to be an argument, we can try again after dinner.”

If it goes well, realize that you can’t predict the future and that stating the problem to your partner is a better idea.

By learning to avoid these traps, and finding a real resolution for the problem, you will have the real stress-management and stress relaxation you need for your relationship.


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