Intense stress is capable of producing almost anything. It can strain any relationship to the breaking point and push even the strongest couples past their limits.
However, if you’re lucky enough to have a marriage that is stronger than most and has already weathered many storms together, you can use this pressure as an opportunity for growth. In almost every marriage there are things left unspoken and unresolved issues lurking below the surface.
Some of these fester until they become unbearable, while others don’t quite reach the threshold of pain before being resolved. When stressors combine with underlying resentments or unspoken frustrations, marriages are put to the test in ways few people expect or are prepared for. As such, it’s important to be aware of red flags in your relationship so that you can take action and avoid reaching a breaking point without having resolved major issues beforehand.
What to do When Your Marriage Feels Like It’s Falling Apart
There are many ways to determine if a marriage is in trouble, but the bottom line is that if you’re feeling anything other than love and respect for your partner, then something is wrong. A relationship that has been strong for a long time can suddenly seem very fragile when faced with financial hardship, caring for a sick family member, or the death of a loved one.
If you’re feeling extreme worry, dread or resentment towards your spouse, you need to talk about it. You don’t need to wait for these feelings to go away on their own. It’s important to remember that feelings are fickle and often come and go. You may feel stressed and overwhelmed now, but you may feel differently in a few days or weeks.
Acknowledge the Stress and Don’t Confuse It With Feelings of Depression or Despair
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, talk to your spouse about it. It may be tempting to use your feelings of stress as an excuse to avoid communication. However, these feelings are not the same as depression or despair. Your marriage will not be “cured” by a prescription for antidepressants.
In fact, treating these feelings with drugs can mask the real issues and create a false sense of security. Don’t confuse stress with feelings of depression or despair. Instead, acknowledge that you’re feeling stressed by this situation and determine what you need to feel better.
Strategy 1: Take Care of Yourself Before Taking Care of the Relationship
Communication is only effective if you have the energy and emotional capacity to maintain good communication. For this reason, you first need to take care of yourself before taking care of your relationship.
To take care of yourself, you need to understand what you need to function optimally. This can be as simple as spending time alone, having a hobby that you enjoy, or taking some time to de-stress with exercise. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you’re selfish or that you don’t love your partner. It means that you’re taking proactive steps to ensure that your needs are met. By taking care of yourself, you reduce your risk of emotional exhaustion, improve your ability to communicate, and show your spouse that you are willing to take the first step.
Strategy 2: Communicate About Everything (Even The Things You Don’t Want To Talk About)
There are some things that are best left unspoken. However, if you regularly let issues fester and never bring them up, they can cause lasting damage to your relationship and your wellbeing. To avoid this, you need to communicate about everything. Even things that you don’t want to talk about. The key is to learn how to communicate effectively. Focus on staying open and honest without attacking or blaming each other.
You may not be 100% comfortable with every conversation, but you should always be working towards creating a healthy and safe environment for communication. This means that you’re comfortable communicating about difficult topics, you know how to respectfully listen to each other, and you accept that communication takes time.
Strategy 3: Commit To Self-Care For Yourself First
If you’re in a relationship with someone who is suffering from depression or anxiety, you may feel like you need to constantly “fix” them. However, this is a very dangerous and unhelpful approach. All you can do is be there for them and accept that it may be something they need to work through on their own. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the situation or not help in any way. What it means is that you need to accept that this is an ongoing struggle and something your partner needs to deal with for the rest of their life. As such, you can’t expect them to “get over it” as if it were a sprained ankle.
Your relationship is always changing and growing, even when you don’t realize it. While some couples are lucky enough to experience the thrill of falling in love over and over again, others become complacent and let their relationship stagnate. If you want your relationship to flourish in times of extreme stress, you must put forth effort to nurture and care for your connection. Communication and self-care are the two essential ingredients in any thriving relationship. For this reason, it’s important that you don’t allow these important ingredients to go unaddressed.