How To Stay Close During Times of Stress

Every relationship, if it lasts long enough, has to survive periods of intense stress. There are certain life events that cause a great deal of stress: changing jobs or schools, getting married or divorced, having a child or having a child go away to school or the military, moving, a death in the family, and other significant life events.

Experiencing any of these events by themselves can be extremely stressful and sometimes overwhelming; the stress can affect your relationship with your spouse or partner. My husband and I are not strangers to stress: three years ago, our son left for the Army the same day we loaded our moving truck to head across the country for me to attend grad school.  We were facing several life-changing events all at once.

Somewhere along the way, the stress got the best of us, and we ended up snapping at each other, withdrawing from each other, and taking everything personally. It took a good six months for us to recover and rebuild our relationship.

One of the most stressful periods we endured was the spring of 2008. We had two kids graduating from high school and were gearing up to move cross-country. Dave was carrying 22 credits in college to graduate as well, and my in-laws were staying with us for three weeks. Just to make it challenging, we also bought a house long-distance.

Amazingly, we were not stressed with each other. Oh, we were stressed – just not with each other!  Knowing how horrid the experience was the last time we were crazy enough to flit across the country, we worked hard to minimize the effects of the stress on our relationship. Learning to work together to manage the stress of daily life has paid off. Recently, we’ve been dealing with sick kids, sick animals, a broken down vehicle, and my husband’s injury that will require surgery.

If you and your partner are facing any kind of stress (whether it’s the daily “I hate my job” stress or the “Everything in my life has been upended” stress) there are things you can do to not only protect your relationship but to help you handle your stress more effectively.

The most important thing is to recognize that you’ll both be affected by what is going on and to TALK to each other.  Take the time to share your concerns with your partner.  Make time for each other.  No matter how crazy things are, make dates at least a couple times a month.  Hire a sitter, call in sick to work, unplug the phone – do whatever it is you have to do to get that time.

When things become overwhelming, let your partner know that you are having a particularly rough time.  Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. The more the two of you stay connected, the less impact the stress will have on your relationship. You’ll face it together instead of tearing each other apart to survive.

It’s The Thought That Counts

It really is the little things that give true meaning and purpose to our lives. I was reminded how much it truly is the thought that counts when it comes to special occasions. December 13, 2010 my husband and I celebrated our second anniversary. My husband is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. He always thinks of everyone else before himself. He is such an amazing man.

For our anniversary, he took the day off work so we could spend our special day together and celebrate the love that brought us together in the first place. We went out to breakfast and then he took me to an adorable outlet mall in Park City, Utah to spend the day doing one of my favorite activities…..SHOPPING! The thought that he put into our day did not cost a lot. But he showed me, as he always does, that he loves me and values our marriage, friendship and relationship.

I know I have said it before but I will say again how important it is as parents to take time for ourselves without the kids. We were lucky and the kids were in school! But we realize we have to constantly and consistently love and nurture our marriage and our relationship. This can be true and important not only for our love relationship but friendships as well. We have to fulfill our needs as people so that we have the fuel to give to our children too. It was so great to reconnect with each other and have a day escape to enjoy each other’s company and to be reminded what we are working for each and every day of our lives creating a happy, healthy, and loving marriage and family.

Babysitter Blues

Finding a babysitter is tough. We have been spoiled. By the time we had Parker, Kira was almost 11 years old. By the time I was willing to leave Parker with a babysitter, Kira was not only old enough to babysit but someone who loved him as much as we did. Parker is now 10 years old, and other than a couple of stays with auntie Tiana and Nana, Kira has done all of the babysitting of Parker. Anika has never stayed with anyone else.

Kira, though, is leaving for college in a month…and Parker and Anika are not old enough to be left home alone. (Even if they were I don’t think we would. They sometimes can’t be alone together for five minutes).

We have already started to feel the pain, since Kira’s life is filled with work, friends, cheerleading, packing, planning, dating – and a sincere lack of desire to babysit for which we cannot blame her. But how do you find a replacement babysitter when the one you’ve had has been so perfect?

I don’t know the answer yet, but it is becoming an issue. Because we haven’t found a sitter, Dave and I have not been out on a date in quite some time. If we go anywhere together, the kids have to go with us. And because it’s summer vacation, if we stay, the kids are here too. I love my kids, but …

WE NEED A BREAK!!!

Dating is an important part of marriage – it is what helps keep marriage strong and renews us so that we can be good, involved parents with the energy to deal with whatever comes our way.

I know I’m going to have to relax and trust someone to come in and care for the kids. I know they’re old enough now to tell me if the person is horrible or mean to them. What’s even worse is that I know this is my hang up and that they will probably be thrilled to have us out of their hair for a while and be spending time with someone new.