Home Life by Bev and Phil Haas
My wife and I are under a lot of stress. There seem to be more and more demands and difficulties piling up lately. We aren’t ready to throw in the towel; we just want to enjoy life more. How can we make life as a couple satisfying again?
Life is stressful. Stress affects us and our relationships—especially our closest ones. In reality, none of us is stress free. Stress is what we feel when we react to pressure, either from the outside world (such as a job) or from inside ourselves (such as dissatisfaction with a job). Like everything else in life, stress comes and goes. It sounds like more has come your way than usual.
Some Stress Is Good
Is all stress bad? No. In fact, some stress is good. Most of us wouldn’t push ourselves to do well in life without feeling some of the weight that stress produces. Without the stress of deadlines, most of us wouldn’t finish projects or get to work on time. So the goal is not to eliminate stress altogether but to better manage stress—especially your response to stress. A certain amount of stress—besides being inevitable—is healthy, positive, and motivating. However, when stress is allowed to pile up it becomes harmful to your health and to your relationships.
God promises us that he will not allow us to be pushed past our limits, but will always be there to help us make it through (1 Corinthians 10:13). God designed our bodies to operate under reasonable levels of stress. But we often exaggerate the harmful effects of stress in our lives by responding in unhealthy ways. Although you can’t control everything that is stressing you out, you can control how you react. Proverbs 23:7 points out that the way you feel about things results from the way you think about things. It’s easy to slip into what Zig Ziglar calls “stinking thinking.” By changing how you think about your stress situation, you can change the way you feel. Following are some more suggestions to help you begin to deal with the stress that is piling up in your life and marriage.
Make a list of the things that are causing your stress. Accept that you can’t control everything on your list. Choose what to become stressed about and work on not sweating the other stuff. Save your energy for dealing with issues you can do something about.
Take control of what you can. For example, if you’re feeling consumed by your work and don’t have time for your spouse or yourself, ask your boss if you can cut back on your hours. That might mean you have to cut back on spending as well.
Give yourself a break. Remember that you can’t make everyone in your life happy all the time. And it’s okay to make mistakes now and then.
Don’t commit yourself to things you can’t do or don’t want to do. If you’re already too busy, don’t promise to decorate for the school dance.
Self-talk is the ongoing conversation you have in your mind with yourself. When self-talk is positive, your mood is likely to be more calm and relaxed. Negative self-talk will do the opposite and raise your stress level. Listen to what you are saying to yourself.
Find someone else to talk to. Talking to your family or friends can help because it gives you a chance to express your feelings aloud and allows others to provide feedback.
Take care of yourself. Get plenty of physical rest and exercise. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep and keep up with an exercise routine. Spending 20 minutes or so three or four times a week exercising can bring enormous benefits by helping you release physical and emotional tension.
Commit to a daily quiet time with God. Plan to spend 15 minutes each day reading from God’s Word, talking to God, and listening for God’s thoughts. A quiet time with God helps reduce stress as it brings life back into perspective.
Stress is an inevitable part of life for all of us, but the way we respond to stress is optional. We encourage you and your spouse to choose some of the suggestions we have listed and begin working together to relieve the pressures that have been building up. As you do this we believe you will begin to enjoy life as God intended.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org.We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children, and they have one grandson.