The strange paradox of our attempts to get rid of relationship stress is:
In trying to address relationship problems we often compound what is contributing to the stress on the relationship in the first place. We are more likely to interact with our partner from a protected or adversarial stance rather than a place of love, compassion, and care.
Avoid becoming problem saturated
An alternative to doing battle or withdrawing is to focus on building the strengths in the relationship, such as getting the fun back. You may think it impossible to have fun if you have issues, but all relationships will have their challenges. When you focus on what you think you lack you can fall into becoming problem-saturated. All your precious attention goes into addressing problems. You may believe if you can just make your partner understand, if you can explain in more detail, or go over the problem again, then you can clear the air and have fun. It’s easy to get so locked in that you don’t allow yourself to relax or enjoy each other’s company until you solve the issue. But what if the issue is much less likely to be a major problem if you can just step away from it and relax a little?
Focus on bringing more warmth, lightness and fun into your relationship
It is common to keep reinforcing relationship issues while trying to solve them with the same old conflict strategies. Yet sometimes it is helpful to put niggling issues aside for a while and invest time in remembering what you appreciated about each other in the first place. When you focus on bringing more warmth, lightness and fun back into your relationship it helps to balance the scales. Sometimes the problems that you thought were insurmountable are diminished when you feel more connected overall. Solutions to problems are more likely to arise when you are relaxed and have stepped away from the problem. In changing your emotional state through whatever brings you fun, connection and joy it is easier, and more natural, to be more considerate of each other. Even if the problem remains, when you have balanced the equation with more affection and fun, you are better prepared to manage the difficulties.
Give yourself permission to have fun
Cast your mind back to the things that you used to enjoy together when everything was fresh and new. Do more of that or try something entirely new. With a constant stream of work, responsibilities, obligations and challenges, many adults lose the sense of play and ability to have fun. Yet numerous studies have shown that we think more clearly and creatively if we have stepped away from problems and have engaged in something completely unrelated – something fun. It completely switches your state of mind. Stress is the result of an overwhelmed mind so rather than giving it more to work through you need to give it something fun to do. So, learn how to dance, explore somewhere new, play a game, have a food-fight, rollerblade, or bounce on a trampoline. Make time for whatever gives you a greater chance of having fun together so you can get back the warmth and connection.
· Even when you are busy, ensure you regularly schedule time for something fun together.
· Put the time in your diary and treat it like an important appointment – honour it and guard it.
· Allow yourself to let go and just have fun – give yourself permission.
This is part 5 of a 5 part series on Dealing with relationship stress will help you to: