There are two types of stress: Eustress and Distress. Eustress is a positive form of stress that motivates one to improve their performance. In a marriage, some eustress may be beneficial as it might push both partners to work harder to make the relationship a successful one.
On the other hand, distress refers to stress that has a negative effect on you. Marital distress may lead to negative mental and physical health outcomes. For instance, studies have shown a correlation between marital stress with depression and digestive health.
Stress from negative events can alter the way we react and behave. Consequently, partners may take their stress out on each other, amplifying marital tension. Venting anger and frustrations on one another may lead to feelings of criticism in both parties, even though neither may be the original source of stress. This could also lead to retaliation, resulting in a vicious cycle.
Signs of Marital Strain in a Relationship
- Arguments that often do not get resolved, leading to decision to separate
- Diminished vitality and sex life
- Behaviours such as a complete loss of connection, contempt, violence, and withdrawal
- Signs of domestic violence (In the event of domestic violence, seek help immediately)
Some Ways to Deal with Marital Strain and Stress
- Talk with loved ones about your concerns
- Communicate with each other openly rather than condemning and criticising, and try to empathise with each other
- Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your marriage, consider the positives
- Avoid bringing up past mistakes
- Devise a strategy together and consider how you can address a certain situation
- Find out how you and your partner deal with stress (Some people choose not to speak; others grumble, sleep, consume alcohol, etc.)
- When your partner becomes enraged while under stress, it's crucial to remember not to take things personally
- Allow yourself and your partner to be forgiven
- Make and spend quality time with each other
Therapy Methods for Marital Stress
It may also be good to seek a secondary, objective opinion for your struggles. A therapist can help you and your spouse to understand the causes and conflicts in your marriage and work through them to strengthen your relationship. They can assist you in identifying internal resources and strengths that can be used to rebuild your marriage through good communication in order to reclaim trust and commitment.
Some therapy methods that help with marital stress include:
However, even when the need for external help is obvious, some couples may refuse to seek it. Delaying or refusing help can increase the symptoms of marital distress. Thus, should your partner refuse to go through with therapy, you can consider going on your own. Your therapist can work with you individually, offering coping strategies and advice on how to strengthen your relationship. They can also guide you on how to approach your partner about the notion of therapy in a more effective manner.
At Psychology Blossom, our psychologist Claudia specialises in couples therapy, and has much experience in assisting couples and individuals undergoing marital distress. If you think therapy might be helpful for yourself and your partner, you can read more about what she does here.