Stress can take its toll on any relationship, and living in the unexpected times of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all experiencing multiple worries – emotional, financial, physical or even work-related. Sometimes, these stress factors can overwhelm our senses, leaving us numb, or irritable.
However, this state of being can aggravate things further. It is very difficult to have a relationship with an irritable person, or a person who seems numb to their environment – whether partner, sibling, friend or parent.
How two people manage these stressful problems can either reduce or magnify these issues.
Communication is key
The best way to ensure that your relationship survives a stressful period is to communicate properly. It is very important for two people to talk about what they need in order to be able to work toward more harmonious interactions. Speaking up and connecting with one another can help reduce tension and worry.
Everyone makes mistakes and miscommunication is inevitable. But one should never be afraid to ask the other person what they need or how you can help support them.
For the relationship to survive a rough patch, communication is the most important tool.
At times like these, when multiple factors contribute to our levels of stress, we all face emotional upheaval. This can cause anger and/or frustration, which we then take out on somebody close to us, somebody we share a relationship with.
It is important to recognise when (not if – everyone does it!) we do so and try to cut down on it in the future. An apology is also essential to diffuse the situation, otherwise your anger/ frustration could result in a whole new argument.
Respect the other person
A great relationship needs a high level of respect on part of both people. Fostering a relationship built on mutual respect helps make it an enjoyable adventure rather than a chore.
Respect means honouring the other person for who they are and also receiving the same from them.
You may want to spend all your time with a person you share a relationship with, especially if it’s a partner or a close friend. However, when you are constantly with someone and make decisions together, it can lead to arguments, create codependency or even result in a constant need for approval.
Instead, it is healthier to sometimes leave some ‘me’ time to focus on what you want to do, do lead your hobbies and refresh yourself.
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what a person receives, whether tangible or intangible. In relationships, it’s vital to demonstrate appreciation for the other person’s commitment and support.
Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and it helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences and build strong relationships.
Stress can be beneficial too!
Sometimes, stress can bring about changes necessary for a relationship to grow. If both people in the relationship look at the stressful incident as a shared effort, rather than a point of friction, they could learn to trust each other better and grow closer.
For example, when we were teenagers, my sister and I would fight all the time, as siblings do. However, when I was about 16-years-old, my mother was involved in a bad accident which left her in the hospital for about a month. My sister and I were left looking after each other and initially our fights became worse and threatened to ruin our relationship. However, over time, as we were jointly responsible to take care of our mother, our relationship strengthened.
Similarly, instead of fighting each other over responsibilities, partners can consider them as a shared effort. But for it to be genuine, it is important that both partners take on equal or reasonable share of responsibility. Taking care of each other’s family, shared responsibility of finances and that of one’s children. Stressful situations become easier to cope with if you have someone walking along with you. Also, if it is not obvious to your partner that you need help, just ask for it. Men and women alike.
To protect the identity, the persons in the picture are models.