Written by: Kiana Oliver
Editor’s note: The following article is written in partnership with Counseling Services and the Southern Accent.
When we watch our favorite Disney movies or sing along to cheesy love songs, it gives us warm and fuzzy feelings of romance. I admit, as a teenager growing up in the 2000s, I replayed Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” and The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” way too many times. But if we take off the heart-shaped glasses for a moment, there’s a not-so glamorous part about relationships: stress. Even if you’re single, I encourage you to keep reading!
If you’ve taken a writing class, you already know the structure of a story includes the rising action, climax and resolution. Romantic movies often follow this formula as two people meet and there’s an instant attraction. However, there has to be a conflict that threatens to tear our Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams apart.
Nevertheless, they beat the odds and win their happily ever after! But don’t cue the rose petals and fireworks just yet. In an article written by Debbie Opoku, a licensed psychotherapist, “Every relationship is going to have arguments. And at worst, arguments can result in hurt feelings, loss of respect for the other person, or loss of a close relationship.”
It’s typical for relationships to experience the effects of daily life stressors (work, school, family, friends, etc.). But problems arise when couples don’t have healthy ways to cope with stress and begin to shut each other out.
In his 2008 book, “Why Mars and Venus Collide,” John Gray wrote, “I have witnessed a new trend in relationships linked to increasing stress. Both couples and singles believe they are too busy or too exhausted to resolve their relationship issues, and often think their partners are either too demanding or just too different to understand.”
Gray’s observation supports the 2018 research by Kevin K.H. Lau and others that found when people openly communicated about their stressors, their partner responded with coping processes.
So how do you manage stress in your relationship? According to an article published by the Gottman Institute, here’s some tips to consider with your partner:
- Set realistic expectations – Think about the things you’d like to change while being realistic about them.
- Set specific and holistic goals – Relationships can be complicated, so try setting smaller goals, and the process will seem less intimidating.
- Focus on the means, not just the ends – Improving your relationship is a continuous process, but try seeing it as an opportunity to get to know your partner better.
Follow @saucounseling on Instagram!