Relationship stress needs to be dealt with head on- as scary as that seems sometimes! To make it easier and help you support your love life, here's my simple tips...
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FYI if you feel embarrassed or ashamed for clicking on this blog stop it, stop it now! Kick those feelings to the curb because it’s absolutely NORMAL to have ups and downs in your relationship.
We all have those times when we wonder why we chose our partner and what we did to deserve such a headache!
However, life is busy enough without feeling like your relationship is adding to the stress, hence why I thought I’d write this blog all about some simple steps you can take to alleviate the strain when things get a bit tough at home.
Home Truth: Your Relationship Takes a Hit Sometimes and that’s OKAY!
I want to begin by reassuring you that it’s normal for relationships to need different things at different times; sometimes you feel in the flow and super connected to your partner and other times you think WTF is going on? Do we even like each other?
I’m sure every relationship in your life is like this because ALL relationships ebb and flow. However, we hold our romantic relationships to a higher standard than the rest; we expect them to “work” for us (regardless if we work for them) and we feel guilty when things go awry.
Unfortunately there’s this weird myth that swirls that real, loving relationships work 100% of the time and if yours doesn’t it’s
Not meant to be
Or, someone is to blame e.g. Were you not paying your partner enough attention? Did someone cheat? Was someone working too much?
The truth is a lot less exciting really! Relationships are part of our lives and sometimes life is HARD. Sometimes things pop up in our life that affect our relationship and sometimes our relationships just go through a lull.
Whatever is stressing you out right now- whether it’s the relationship directly or life in general and your relationship is taking the hit- I’ve got some simple advice to help you out.
How to Get Back On Track: Tip #1 Stop Fire Fighting!
Now you know that it’s absolutely okay for your relationship to feel a bit *meh* sometimes it’s important that we talk about how we can get back on track when this happens.
My #1 tip for couples in this situation isn’t glamorous or super complex- but it WORKS.
And that is to sit down, have a *structured* conversation about the current situation and make a plan to move forward.
This might sound super simple but the best solutions often are!
When things are difficult we usually stop communicating effectively with each other. We might notice things are different but we don’t take stock of the how/ what/ why instead we try to fight through it.
We’re in what I like to call “fire fighting mode”- we’re just pushing through and trying to get out alive so to speak- but we can’t do this forever. Fire fighting is useful when there’s a short-term issue but it’s not a long-term solution.
When we fire fight for too long we end up feeling resentful, guilty, alone and/ or ashamed; all rubbish emotions no one deserves to be dealing with!
So if you’ve been struggling for awhile, if things haven’t been getting better and you’re left wondering if things will ever get back to normal instead of just pushing through a much better option is to stop and take stock of the current situation.
Stop ignoring the struggle
Stop communicating in riddles or passive-aggressively with your partner
Stop pretending things will be okay on their own
Stop putting your feelings aside
Instead I’m going to show you a simple way to actually work out what’s wrong and create a solution that works for you. This should help you move forward in a more productive, loving way.
My Simple 3- Step Process to Stress- Proof Your Relationship
Step #1: Make time for a meaningful conversation
FYI trying to have a productive conversation about how your relationship is going, where the gaps are and how you’re feeling on the fly won’t work.
As difficult as it may be (we all have other stuff going on I COMPLETELY understand) you need to prioritise your relationship and carve out some time to have a structured and meaningful conversation that can lead you forward.
This means a peaceful setting, intentionally setting time aside and you both being fully present and ready to check in.
Step #2: Do a check in
I recommend doing this regularly because then it’ll feel less daunting. It’ll be less of the dreaded “we need a chat” moment with your partner and more like “shall we have a chat Thursday after the kids go to bed?” easy breezy feeling.
It’ll become a positive habit and second nature!
Structured check in’s help you manoeuvre through life stressors together as a team and they’ll give you both a safe space to share feelings and concerns without getting defensive.
Both of your feelings will impact the relationship, and everything else in the home, so you need to check in with each other so your partnership can be strong enough to steer the ship so to speak.
Check in’s should consist of: checking in with the progress of the relationship, with each other’s feelings and any current issues.
You can decide how you address the above but for anyone who hasn’t done this before, or would like a bit of a structure, questions I’d ask in a check in are:
How are you both feeling right now in general? And, in terms of the relationship?
Is there anything causing concern currently? If so, what?
What do you need to alleviate these concerns?
What do you need personally to feel more content in the relationship?
How can your partner support you to meet these current needs?
These questions are questions I’d use in regular check in’s (weekly for example) as they’re short and the more you ask them, the more attuned you’ll get to acting on them.
However, if you are planning on conducting check in’s with more time in between (monthly for example) I’d ask the questions below too. These will help you ensure that long term the relationship is moving along as you’d like…
How can your partner help you feel loved and appreciated?
How can your partner support you to achieve your individual goals?
How do you feel the relationship is progressing currently?
What goals would you both like to make for the relationship?
What would you like to see more of in your relationship?
What would you like to see less of in your relationship?
Step #3: Create a plan for moving forward
Sometimes a conversation is all that is needed to make things feel a little less strained.
However sometimes things will pop up that need addressing with more of a plan.
This could be delegating some household tasks to different family members, changing routines or adding in a date night so you feel more connected.
It could even be as simple as making sure you set a date to check in again so things don’t have time to get so fraught next time!
Whatever it is, if your check in brought some points up that need addressing then make sure you put a plan together to do just that. A plan of action, as unexciting as it sounds, will be the key to supporting you in moving forward.
The worst thing you can do is think you’ve communicated effectively about your needs and then nothing change because you didn’t actually look at the HOW in all of this.
That’s an easy way to feel even more disconnected from your partner and for relationship stress to grow.