How to Handle Stress in (and outside of) Your Marriage

It’s one thing to be busy, but it’s another to be stressed! Busyness is external, while stress is internal. You can have a schedule packed to the brim, but you can have peace. At the same time, you can have nothing to do, but your mind could be swimming. Regardless of how you handle stress, if you don’t handle stress, it can affect your marriage.

Just as we have busy seasons, we also have stressful seasons. Maybe you’re having a rough time at work. Maybe you’re dealing with a family or friend relationship that is draining you. Maybe you have a health issue that is sucking all of your energy and making you lose your patience much more easily.

I had a conversation once with a loved one about how we claim we love our family more than anything, but we tend to hurt them and get mad at them the most. Unfortunately, when I’m stressed, my husband is usually the target of my wrath. Whether it’s a work issue or an anxiety issue, I usually end up getting upset at the minuscule mistakes my husband makes.

As a funny side note, I always joke that my husband leaves his socks on the floor, and I almost caught him yesterday! I saw he left a pair of socks by his computer last night. I was going to take a picture and show it to you, but they weren’t there! So, in reality, he never leaves his socks on the floor! Good for you, babe!

Anyway, as I said in my post about busyness, don’t let your season of stress be a lifetime. You’re allowed to be stress, but you need to clean it up before it lasts longer than a couple of months. Not only is it not helpful, it is also not healthy. You may feel symptoms of sickness when you are stressed for a prolonged period of time. So, here is how to make sure that you don’t have this issue in your marriage:

Remember you are a team. This week is going to be particularly stressful for me. Without me having to ask, although I normally make our lunches in the morning and get us ready for work, my husband stepped in and helped today. He threw out the garbage, and he helped load the dishwasher. He also helped me get our snacks ready for lunch. Because my husband had a stressful season at work (lots of OT!), I took on a lot of the responsibilities at home, but now that he has more time, and I have less time, we’re now balancing the responsibilities. I know I can be a control freak and not want to let my husband help, but if I don’t let him help, I will be stressed, and eventually it will come out that I think he’s lazy! If you are the one who is stressed, do not be afraid to ask for help. Delegate the tasks that you don’t have time to do, and show appreciation to your spouse for him or her helping you (no matter whether he does it your way or not!). If you are not the one in the marriage who is stressed, recognize that your spouse is in rare form, and be intentional about helping. Whatever you can do to lighten the load for your spouse, whether it’s helping her get ready for work in the morning, or picking up some of the chores around the house (or, if you have kids, taking the kids out so your spouse can have a break), show love to your spouse by helping relieve his/her stress.

Know your triggers and communicate them with your spouse. Being around people stresses me out and drains me. I didn’t know how to communicate that until I heard my co-worker talk about her friend group. After that, I realized why I get drained when I do. Now that I can communicate that with my husband, we can plan how I can have less stress on a regular basis. I have also learned my husband’s triggers, so now I do my best to accommodate him so that he will have peace.

Make changes to your schedule as needed. If your schedule is stressing you out, then stop doing something! Look at your schedule, and cross out one thing this week. Don’t do it. Obviously, attending classes or going to work is mandatory, but if it’s something you can give up for the week, put your self-care over whatever task you think is more necessary than your well-being.

Make time for each other. Make time to pray and read Scripture (especially together), and learn to communicate when you are stressed. Often, the best cure for stress is to stop and talk about it. Talk about what stresses you out, and listen to each other.

How do you handle stress in your marriage?

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash


Struggles in Marriage

When I was on my honeymoon with my husband, I knew that life could not get any better.  We were sipping piña coladas at no additional cost.  We were warm under the beautiful Bahamas sun.  We woke up at 5:40AM and went to bed at 8:00PM.  One day, we went to bed at 6PM and missed our 7:30PM dinner reservations.  But guess what?  We didn’t care!

Only fourteen months later, while the honeymoon feelings are still there (we are holding onto them as long as we can!) our lives are not as warm and fuzzy as the Bahamas sun.

Life is hard.  The money runs out, the work day is stressful, and the demands of life are more than the average person can handle.  All of those things can cause us to take out our anger on our spouses if we are not careful.

I want to offer a bit of encouragement to those who are going through a difficult season.  Regardless of where you are in life, you may be in a place where you’re tempted to fight against your spouse rather than with your spouse.  Your spouse is your life partner and journey sharer, the one who God has chosen to love you and to encourage you on your journey.  God has chosen you to do the same for your spouse.  You and your spouse are a team, a force that is more powerful together than apart.

The Bible says that two people are better than one.  That passage in Ecclesiastes talks about one person falling into a hole and another person pulling him out, and a person who is cold and has someone to keep him warm in bed.  Those are both two difficult situations that are made easier when there are two people struggling rather than one.

The same is true for marriage.

Married friends, your spouse is meant to help you through the difficult times.  Do not see your spouse as an enemy, but as a partner in crime.  Pray together and let God speak through both of you.  You will be amazed at the confirmation you receive from God as a result of what He tells you and your spouse.

Yesterday, when I was at work, I had a lot of time to think about the situation we are currently facing.  For several months, we have been praying about a specific problem that we have been having.  An idea popped into my head and wouldn’t stop nagging me. It seemed like a good idea, but it was completely against what we have been planning all this time.  To convince my husband to get on board with my idea, after I spent all this time trying to convince him otherwise, would have been difficult and would have made me look fickle.  I prayed that God would give me wisdom.

At home, while we were talking about our situation, I proposed my idea to him.  He smirked when I finished talking.  “It’s amazing that I was thinking the same exact thing today,” he said.  God spoke to both of us about an idea that we were completely against a few days ago.

Through this struggle we’ve been having, I have never seen my husband pray more.  I have never seen my husband have more faith in God’s plan and God’s timing.  My husband has done such an incredible job of encouraging me in our struggle.  And I’ll admit that I haven’t been as positive as I usually am, but I pray that God has grown me through this and that the growth is evident in my life!

Let’s face it: Life is not a beautiful trip to the Bahamas.  Instead of asking God to take away your struggle, ask God to use this struggle to bring you closer to Him.  When you trust God and trust your spouse in the midst of struggle, God will grow you and your marriage.  You will look back on this difficult season and know that God used it to fulfill His plan and purpose in you and your spouse’s lives.

Photo by Zoriana Stakhniv on Unsplash

Wisdom Wednesday

How to Overcome When You’re Overwhelmed

As I’ve been slightly overwhelmed these past few weeks, I find it appropriate to write about what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  Two week ago, I shared that if you’re overwhelmed, you’re in good company.  This week, let’s talk about what to do in the heat of the moment.

It amazes me that some people don’t know what a panic attack feels like.  For me, they are a regular struggle; I used to have multiple panic attacks a day, and then they stopped for a few months, and now I have about one every two weeks.  Needless to say, panic attacks are a major inconvenience, no matter how often I get them or how long they last.

For those who don’t know, let me describe a typical panic attack (although panic attacks look different for everyone): throat feels tight, trouble breathing, racing heart, dizziness, blurry vision, hot flashes, nausea, muscle spasms, dry mouth, and stomach knots…all in a matter of five minutes.

Panic attacks tend to occur when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  When I have a ton of things to do and I don’t even know where to start, my muscles tense and I literally become frozen.  I pray and wait until the storm within passes.  Eventually, it does pass, even when it feels like it will never end when it’s actually happening.

If you’re anxious or overwhelmed right now, you probably don’t want to read about it.  You just want help.  Look no further!  Here are five things you can do to calm your nerves and get back on track:

  • Close your eyes: Looking at the pile of work on your desk, the dirty laundry in your bedroom, or a person with whom you have a conflict, can be very overwhelming.  It may help you to just push your chair away from your desk for a minute, turn your head away from the mess, or even go into another room to collect your thoughts.  Don’t let this become an excuse to not get your work done, but taking a break for a few minutes can help you calm down and be ready to face whatever comes your way.
  • Take a deep breath: When I’m anxious, I forget to breathe.  I didn’t realize that I do that until I was in college, and my friend noticed I wasn’t breathing.  Anxiety actually subsides when we let oxygen flow through our brain and allow the body to heal.  I just did a quick search on how oxygen helps with anxiety, and I found that people actually use concentrated oxygen (under doctor or professional supervision, I’m sure) to heal from anxiety and other mental disorders.  So, the air around you can help you if you just, well, use it!
  • Make a list: Write a to-do list and study it.  Seeing all your tasks causes you to look at them and make a plan of action.  They can be counted; they are not innumerable.  You will feel more in control, and you will remember your tasks, if you list what seems like impossible activities.
  • Pray: You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.  He will give you the wisdom to handle your tasks, and the peace to overcome your anxiety.  Pray for clarity of mind as you use wisdom to sort through your to-do list.
  • Move: Do not let the fear paralyze you.  As I said before, anxiety or feeling overwhelmed may hinder you from getting anything done.  Sometimes the best way to overcome the stress is to simply do the task.  When you start moving, you’ll be able to accomplish what you thought was impossible.

The Bible says that when we meditate on the word of God day and night, we will be like a tree planted near streams of water (Psalm 1:1-3).  Wouldn’t you rather be a tree that is rooted on the ground than a leaf that is blown around by the wind?  Trust in God in the midst of anxiety.  He is our foundation, our ever present help in trouble.  Through Him, we can overcome when we feel overwhelmed.

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash