Any marriage can hit a rough patch every now and then. But you made a commitment to each other, to stick with each other through good times and bad, and you want to get through it. Together.
No doubt if you’ve been married for a while you have your own stories about the tough times you’ve been through. Partners in marriage have always faced difficulties—problems that affect their relationship.
Psychologists refer to these difficulties as marital stressors. A marital stressor is simply any kind of outside influence, circumstance or event that challenges a marriage. These can cause tension between spouses, and even create bitterness that can damage a relationship.
There can also be more subtle effects. Some marital stressors can cause husbands and wives to slowly drift apart with very little conflict between them.
It’s important to take notice and be vigilant against these stressors in order to protect your marriage.
In times of stress, use these tips to help keep your marriage strong:
- Communicate – Remember those long, heart-to-heart talks you used to have? Don’t stop. It’s important to be in constant communication with your spouse about what you need, how you’re feeling, and what’s important to you. And just as importantly, you need to listen and be open-minded when your spouse shares these things with you. When you feel like you’re heard and understood by your spouse, you feel loved. Keep the channels of communication always open.
- Stay Intimate – In times of high stress, it’s easy to withdraw from each other and hole up within yourself as a means of coping. In a marriage, however, that can be toxic. It is so important in times of high stress to be affectionate with your spouse and let them know that they are loved. Hold hands, share a kiss, a lingering look across the room, a smile. Maintaining a close bond will make difficult times much easier.
- Enjoy date night – You need time alone together, away from the kids and the stress that being home can sometimes cause. To have an adult conversation that isn’t going to be interrupted by little ones. If you don’t feel like you can get out because money is tight, plan a free night out. Go to a museum exhibit or simply take a drive or go for a walk and hold hands. Exchange babysitting services with another family so you can both enjoy some couple time. Is there a respite center in your town that you may be able to bring your child with special needs, that you feel comfortable leaving them there so you can enjoy a few hours together.
- Spend time alone – and let your spouse do the same. Sometimes we just need time by ourselves or with a good friend to disconnect from the stress a little, so we can come back with a fresh perspective. Find something that feeds your soul and go do it. Then, allow your spouse the same luxury. Yours might be yoga, his might be a night out with the guys watching the football game.
- Have fun! – When life gets hard, it can tend to linger like a black cloud. Find something fun to do together – or as a family – that will make you laugh. It doesn’t have to cost money. Go on a picnic, play your favorite board game. Anything. Just have fun, enjoy life, and remember the things that attracted you to one another, to begin with.
Marriage is full of ups and downs. No doubt you will experience stress, uncertainty, and pain many times together. These times don’t have to be the end of your marriage. If you work through it together and support each other your marriage can remain strong – and even grow stronger – during these times.