Stress may start with a slow creep into our lives, but often it is not long before we are completely overwhelmed. It can affect our mental health, our physical health, and our relationships with the most important people in our lives.
The nine months since my husband and I married have been wonderful in a lot of ways. But we have also experienced a lot of stress. Some of this has been a result of the natural changes that take place after marriage. We didn’t live together before getting married, so there was adjustment to simply sharing space with another person and getting used to all of their quirky habits that reveal themselves over time. And although not everyone feels the same way, for me, marriage has resulted in a lot of mental and emotional changes from when we were just dating.
Change can be stressful in and of itself, but life has a way of just happening as well. And it seems like there has been a lot of life happening in our home lately. From job challenges, to health struggles, to problems around the house that have made us wish were just renting, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. Being a newlywed definitely doesn’t exempt you from crap happening. There have been a lot of tears, at least on my part. Some sleepless nights. Stress in one area of your life can very easily start to move into others and start to affect your marriage as well.
You might find yourself unable to relax at the end of the day when it’s just you and your spouse. Or snapping at each other about stupid things because you are wound so tight. It can be easy to take out what we are feeling on the person closest to us or push them away, even when they aren’t to blame. And when you really care about someone, it can hard not to take on a little (or a lot) of their worry and stress when they are struggling.
Unfortunately, there is a lot in life that we just can’t control and that we may feel blindsided with in the moment. Even if we are stressed from over-commitment or a person in our life that could be removed or a job that we hate, making changes can take time and we have to learn to deal with them and how they can impact our marriages in the interim.
Here are three ways to manage stress in a healthy way in your marriage:
1. Be intentional about date nights
When things get busy and stressful, it can be hard to feel like taking the extra effort to plan a special date. Trust me, there are some nights that you need to just cuddle on the couch and binge watch Netflix. When you are exhausted after a long day, sometimes you just need to veg.
But, no matter how stressful things get, it is important to still date your spouse. It allows you to do something that you find relaxing together and get your mind off what may be happening in your daily life. You need to find opportunities to laugh, have fun together, and romance each other.
The more intentional you can be about it the better. Put specific date nights/days on the calendar. Have something to look forward to. I have been doing more research about potential date nights in advance instead of just deciding to do something when the mood strikes. Because usually that means it simply won’t happen. So when I saw an ad about free admission one Saturday to the local Natural History museum I put on the calendar. And we have been getting excited all month about a Harry Potter festival that is this weekend.
Here’s some date night ideas for you:
2. Have a bedtime routine
One of the things the special things that we have created in our marriage is a bedtime routine that we follow every night. This might seem a little silly, but it is our way of winding down before we go to sleep and way for us to always get our love language needs met every day.
My husband’s top love language is physical touch and mine is quality time. So every night I scratch his back and often he will brush my hair, because these are each things that each of us enjoy. Then we will cuddle, look into each other’s eyes, and talk about any last things that are on our minds and hash them out before turning off the lights.
Challenge yourself to come up with a special routine or ritual that you and your husband can practice every day. It doesn’t have to be one for bedtime. Make it something that feeds your individual love languages.
3. Take walks together
Find some things that you can do together that bust stress. Exercise can be one of those things. My husband and I have started taking long walks together several nights a week. The benefit for us is twofold, we get to do something that is healthy and reduces our stress levels and also have the opportunity to talk out anything that is bothering us along the way.
Make a commitment to exercising together on a regular basis, whether it is taking walks, biking, or participating in a exercise class. Also choose date activities that have stress busting potential, such as hiking, a couples massage, a clay or painting night, or anything that you personally find relaxing. I’m afraid that Netflix doesn’t count for this one though.
What are some ways that you manage stress in your marriage or relationship?