by Jewell R. Powell
Life is busy. Life is stressful. These are facts of life, but how we handle that busyness and stress makes all the difference in our lives and especially in our marriage. A common scenario for busy couples is for the husband and wife to get wrapped up in their individual projects and issues. Instead of managing the stress together, they may find themselves trying to deal with it all alone, which can actually create space between husband and wife, rather than creating unity. Being able to identify when stress may be damaging your marriage is the first step for taking control, so you and your spouse can work together to focus on protecting and strengthening your relationship.
The Bible actually addresses stress and anxiety many times and for good reason. Our human side, our flesh has a tendency to give into stress, so we NEED the reminders and promises from God to help us keep our Godly focus and know where to turn when challenging times come. Can you identify certain issues in your life that create the most stress? Whether they are problems within the marriage itself or external stressors, the same promises from God apply.
Stressors Are To Be Expected
In Isaiah 40: 30,31, we can read,
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." This verse shows us that YES stressors will come, you will grow weary, you will fall, but when you place your trust in the Lord, your strength will be renewed and you will soar.
So don't get down on yourself or your marriage if you and your spouse are experiencing stress. This is normal and to be expected. However, allowing stress to damage your marriage relationship is where you have to draw the line. While we cannot control the stressors we encounter in life, we can control our responses. Choosing the right responses to stress will minimize or even eliminate problems it can create in marriage.
Signs Stress May Be Damaging Your Marriage
None of us is perfect, and the human side of us may allow stress to do some damage. Below are some warning signs to look out for in your marriage relationship:
* Arguing or "snapping" at each other
* Tension that seems to hang around continually.
* Rarely spending time with each other.
* Difficulty communicating without arguing or disagreeing.
* Decreased intimacy, both sexual and otherwise.
* Financial struggles.
* Critical comments or even just critical thoughts about each other.
If one or more of these seem to be a common occurrence in your relationship, it is time to seek some spiritual healing for your marriage as well as the Godly insight to help you learn to cope with stressors together as a couple. The good news is that God is more than capable of helping you through this stressful time. Trust in Him, connect with God and each other through prayer, and you will find your relationship bond is strengthened and you have the firm foundation you need to withstand the storms that life can bring.
5 Ways to Deal with Stress as a Couple
Whether you are newly married or have been married for years, learning how to deal with stress as a couple is a learned skill. Rarely is it something that people just know how to do intuitively. Instead, it is a choice that one must make. However, it is never too late in the marriage to begin making good choices and learning new coping skills.
Unfortunately, too many people rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms that do not strengthen the marriage and in most cases do nothing to alleviate stress and may even cause MORE stress. Alcohol, drugs, sex, affairs, gambling, overeating and shopping are some of the activities that may seem to improve stress levels for a moment, but the repercussions can be devastating.
Because you are reading this newsletter, it is safe to say that you want to choose healthy coping methods and you care about your marriage. When you or your spouse is dealing with stress, consider these healthy ways for making it through stressful situations as a couple:
1. Be a peacemaker.
Matthew 5:9 tells us, "blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." It is clear that the Lord wants us to be peacemakers. When you strive to create peace in your home, you will find that stress has much less impact on your marriage. You can create peace through prayer, striving to see the best in people, giving them the benefit of the doubt, and showing unconditional love.
2. Communicate effectively, don't stuff!
Some of us have become very skilled at "stuffing" emotions. The problem with holding it all inside is that eventually you cannot contain it any longer and it all comes exploding out, and when that happens people can get hurt and relationships can get damaged. The solution is to practice good communication skills with your spouse. Set aside a time to talk a few times a week (daily would be ideal). Put aside distractions like smartphones and laptops or television and really share what's on your heart.
3. Have fun!
Enjoying yourself is a natural way to de-stress and when you can do that with your spouse you are simultaneously decreasing stress and strengthening your marriage. Being able to have fun together is essential to a healthy, well-balanced relationship. It is a scientific fact that laughter decreases mental, emotional and physical stress. Pick up a new hobby together. Read a funny book together. Go to a comedy club. Go rollerskating. The list goes on and on, but whatever you do, make an effort to enjoy life together and watch the stressors in your life become less of a focus.
4.Choose be positive.
Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. It's okay to put-on positivity, even when you do not feel like it. Philippians 4:4 tells us to "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice!" It doesn't say "rejoice when you feel like it" or "rejoice when things are going your way." It uses the word "always." Positivity is the antidote for stress. It's hard to be stressed-out when you are focused on being positive. Practice positivity with your spouse. Encourage each other with positive words. Decide to live a positive life together and you will be amazed by how it will eliminate the impact stressors can have on your life.
5. Put it in God's hands.
This can be explained in one simple verse: "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" Psalm 55:22. When you or your spouse has stressors hanging over your head, give them to God. He instructs us to do this, because he wants us to live an abundant life, not one burdened with worry and stress. He is big enough to handle all of the worries and anxieties you face.
* The Stress-Free Marriage by Jimmy Evans
* 30 Minute Read: Stress-Proof Your Marriageby Cory Busse
* A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm Less Stress by Karol Ladd
* Communication: Key to Your Marriage: The Secret to True Happiness by H. Norman Wright
© 2014 by Jewell R. Powell, “The Marriage coach” has a heart and passion for helping couples by using biblical principles & transparency of her own marriage. Visit her website at: http://www.marriage101.us