Nina Simone got it right when she sang, “Into each life some rain must fall.” The jazz great was acknowledging a simple fact of life—that we’re all going to find ourselves under gray skies at some stage. We can’t stop the rain, but we can avoid getting soaked.
Before we look at some ways to cut the stress there may be in your marriage, it’s important to remember that not all rain is bad. Torrential downpours may be unwelcome, but we need a certain amount of water to grow the food we eat and water the lawns we enjoy.
In the same way, while we tend to think of things like divorce, sickness, financial struggles, and losing our job as the causes of stress, good things can be, too. If you have planned a wedding, bought a house, or had a baby, you know that blessings can bring challenges of their own.
So whether it comes from what we might consider a negative or a positive source, a certain amount of stress in inevitable. What’s important is how we handle it. Because while we may not be able to eliminate it entirely, we can reduce it.
Too often we act as though it’s all beyond our control but, usually, there’s plenty we can do to minimize how we get by in the storms—from carrying an umbrella to taking cover indoors. It’s all about how we respond. Here are some ways to reduce the stress in your marriage:
1. Stop your unrealistic expectations.
Morning breath, disagreements about money, parenting problems: He or she is not going to be perfect all the time and agree with everything you think. But differences don’t have to divide; they can be something that strengthens your relationship. Start accepting your spouse for who they are. Consider these 5 Unfair Expectations On Your Wife and 5 Unfair Expectations On Your Husband.
2. Stop comparing your marriage to others.
That will only cause you to look at your spouse negatively. Start accepting your relationship is unique and that it may not look like your friends’. As I point out in my blog, How to Crush Comparison in Marriage, it’s good to remember that social media gives us a distorted, only-the-good-bits view of other people’s lives.
3. Stop wearing busyness as a badge of honor.
One of the biggest pressures many couples face is that they have too much on their plates and not enough time together to build and strengthen their relationship. You may have work responsibilities, but you ultimately control your calendar. Take charge of it. Start relaxing with your time—and your spouse.
4. Stop dealing with conflict at night.
Some difficulties can’t and shouldn’t be ignored but facing them can be put off to a better time. Susan and I have learned that trying to deal with tough issues late in the evening, when we are both tired, is just not a good idea. Start working through issues at more appropriate times when you are rested and fresh. It will go much better.
5. Stop spending what you don’t have.
Money is the number one stressor, according to an American Psychological Association study last year. Don’t make the problem worse by living beyond your means. Start to choose thrift over debt. Financial expert Dave Ramsey offers some helpful ideas for dealing with what couples fight about the most.
6. Stop complaining about your spouse to others—your friends or your children.
This is only going to contribute to your negative attitude, and it’s also setting a poor example. Think. Would you like your spouse to be doing the same thing about you? Start praising them to others. Focusing on the good things will force you to change your perspective.
7. Stop trying to control your spouse.
I have pointed out before that this tendency is one of the dangerous 9 Cs that can kill a marriage. Your way is not necessarily the right or the only way. Demanding things go your way makes you a tyrant, not attractive. [Tweet This] Start trying to listen and learn from them. Let go of your insistence on calling the shots.
As I said earlier, you cannot avoid all sources of stress in life. But choosing to make these sort of adjustments in your attitudes and actions can certainly reduce their impact.
What are the big stress areas in your marriage and what have you tried to minimize them? Share your experiences and thoughts here.