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Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash
While writing a check for a major expense recently, Mel said, “You seem agitated.” to which Mark replied, “This is a lot of money!” Mel’s light-hearted response was, “They’re only numbers.” Mark paused, and then laughed, “Yet another example of how we are completely opposite.” And we smiled at each other.
We all handle stress in our own way – from letting everything roll off with a chuckle to brimming just below the surface ready to shoot out steam. Hopefully you know how you handle stress individually. If not, ask your spouse – they have an idea! The real question we want to ask is: How do you help your spouse when you see they are stressed?
When Mel encounters a highly stressful situation, she usually sets aside the situation to focus on managing her stress. She might start cleaning a room or pull some weeds or escape into a Netflix show. At these times, I try to give her the space she needs to deal with the stress. I also offer to help with the situation. Most importantly, I stay in contact with Mel in whichever ways she is open to at the moment – discussion, hugs, smiling at her when we make eye contact, etc. I want Mel to know that she doesn’t have to take on stress on her own; we are in this together.
When Mark is stressed, he dives deeper into the situation and lets the stress keep building. If it’s a situation I’m able to help him with, I stop what I’m doing and lend a hand in any way I can. He appreciates the support, which eases his stress. If it’s a work situation that I have no ability to help with, I look for ways to chip away at his stress level. I offer to make him some food, give him a hug, and listen to him vent. I want to convey that I’m there for him in any way he needs me.
Whether it’s helping with the situation or with stress relief, there are so many ways we can support each other in coping with stress. Regardless of how different our styles of managing stress are, we've come to realize that when one of us is stressed, we're both stressed. We’re in it together! How do you two face stress together? What is your attitude about your spouse’s stress? Are there any ways you can improve?
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Noah Buscher on Unsplash