Q: Is there anything you are noticing nowadays that is making it more difficult for couples to get along?
A: Stress. We don’t show up as our best selves when we are dealing with invasive work pressures, family illness, spending endless hours getting a run around when we need an appliance repaired, or have overloaded schedules. Dealing with too much debt is a big stressor these days, what to speak if we have lost our job (or are afraid of loosing it). Stress is on the rise, and it is showing up as difficulties in our relationships.
We tend to attack each other when we are in pain. Instead of blaming each other when emotions flare, we need to create a united front- the 2 of us against the problem. We all need to develop compassionate listening skills to understand what is going on underneath the negative response, to not attack back in defense and instead unite to try to work it out together.
Occasional painful interactions are not as impactful when we have a large emotional bank account built up with kind interactions, quality time together and shared appreciations. Then, our inadvertent withdrawals from our emotional bank will more easily be seen with compassion.
And we all need to take responsibility for managing our own emotional reactions. There is a space, albeit small, between the stimulus and when we react, and we can use that time to choose responses in the mode of goodness.
Stress makes it all that much harder to connect with ourselves first, then to others and then on to communicate well.
The best thing we can do when our partner is stressed is to manage our reactions to that stress.