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My Articles: Improving Relations: Partner under stress

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When your partner is under stress
If your partner is under extreme stress, chances are you're suffering too. Poorly-managed stress takes its toll not only on our mental and physical health, but also on those closest to us. If we become distant, inattentive, irritable, or consumed by our own thoughts and worries, our relationship with our partner is invariably affected. If you're wondering what to do about a partner?s problem, here are 10 coping strategies to help.

Steps:

  • Don't take responsibility for the other's stress. If you see it as your mission to manage someone else's stress and relieve all its symptoms, you can set yourself up not only for failure but also for a heavy stress burden yourself.

  • Be honest with yourself and others. Is someone else's stress is increasing your anxiety, are you concerned about their health risks, or do you miss the time spent together in less stressful times? Decide what is most problematic and discuss your concerns honestly.

  • Accept that someone else's tolerance for stress, coping style, and the amount of stress they can manage may be different from yours.

  • Keep a positive focus. Stress your concern, love, and willingness to help rather than the negative consequences or amount of suffering you're experiencing.

  • Refuse to feel guilty if you're not stressed. It's ok to have fun, participate in activities you enjoy, and socialize even if your partner isn't able to do so due to stress. You won't be able to provide emotional support if you don't stay happy and healthy yourself.

  • Suggest a getaway from day-to-day stresses, even if for only an hour or two. Ideally this should be an activity that both of you will enjoy. Be sure you aren't burdening your partner with time commitments that they feel pressured to accept.

  • Do your homework. Collect ideas for interesting and rejuvenating pursuits for your mini-getaway. Your suggestions and concern are more likely to be effective if you provide specifics.

  • Know the value of timing. Bringing up a discussion of your partner's stress levels the night before her big deadline or while the kids are screaming might not be well-received. Choose a quiet and uninterrupted time to talk things over. If necessary, ask for an "appointment" just to talk.

  • Little things can go a long way. Finding small ways to brighten your loved one's day can help reduce the stress and tension of a hectic schedule. Send an unexpected card, a plant or flowers, or surprise him with a book or small gift.

  • Realize that your concern or desire to help may not be readily accepted, or that your partner may deny it. If you meet with resistance, back off and wait for a better time. Don't take it personally if an attempt fails.
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