Stress and Relationships
By Suzanne Reisman on February 24, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
Maybe opposites attract because otherwise, a couple would explode. Take how we deal with stress. I am a neurotic, paranoid, bundle of stress. Everything stresses me out, from thinking about what I need to pack for a trip I'll be taking in a week to the implosion of the economy. I react to the little things in almost the same way I do to the big ones. My motto is that if the small stuff isn't to be sweated, then it wouldn't be there.
My husband, on the other hand, lets almost everything roll off his back. If he's upset, then I know something is really, really wrong (which, of course, stresses me out). His credo is to take things as they come, deal with situations, and move on. It is a much healthier approach to life, which will always have little daily stresses and bigger curve balls. I can't imagine how stressful our relationship would be if he was as stressed as I am.
Sometimes I stress that he'll get sick of all the things that stress me out, but at least he is used to it. When we got together (14 years ago yesterday!), I was not much different than I am now. Stressed, but about other topics. Maybe it's the new things that stress me out that keep it fresh (and therefore tolerable) for him? Hmmmm...
It's interesting because my husband's brother's relationship is the flip side of ours. My brother-in-law is a bundle of worries and mini freak outs, just like me. His wife is cool as a cucumber, from what I can tell. She seems to be the balm that he needs to handle all of life's stressers, just like my husband is my oasis of calm thought. In my sister's marriage, she's the worrier and her husband is the take-it-a-day-at-time person. Another friend of mine has a partner who is OCD, so my friend is really the rock in the relationship. My mom and my mother-in-law? Both obsessive worriers. Dad and father-in-law? Only get stressed when under high levels of duress. (And I'm not sure I've ever seen my father-in-law stress out over anything, now that I think about it.)
I could blather on and on. Based on the people I know, it seems that things work best when only one partner has stress issues. I know a few people who are in relationships where both are very laid back, and that seems to work nicely as well. (Sometimes I think if one partner is too laid back, and the other too uptight, the relationship is doomed because the laid back person will only stress out the uptight one more, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they both learn from one another and find a nice middle ground.) I don't really know anyone in a relationship in which both partners are easily stressed, but that is likely a limitation of the people I know more than a trend. Still, I can't imagine coming home to someone like me. The thought really stresses me out.
How about you? Do you and your partner deal with stress in the same way? What are your coping mechanisms as a couple for stress?
Other blog links on stress and relationships:
- How to Stress Proof Your Relationship" by Aviva Engle at DreamManifesto
- "Five Essential Practices to Safeguard Your Relationship in Tough Times" by HeartMath at Gaia Community
- The Happiness Project blog by Gretchen Rubin
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