You’ve heard of romance flowering between couples during times of extreme stress? The couple that met when during the war – they found something magical and beautiful despite the horror? It’s a terribly romantic concept that devastating times are what bring two people together. However, during times of devastation – it is our connections to others that help us through – it needs those connections that encourage us to keep reaching out.
So if this is true, why then does stress that can bring our need for connections with others so clearly causes us to pull away as well? Simply put – just because something is forged in a fire does not mean it can survive a conflagration. What can be built can be torn down – what exists needs to be maintained – when it is neglected – it can fall into disrepair.
Why Does Stress Hurt Romance?
Simply put, stress affects people in different ways. People respond to stress in different ways. There are common ways of dealing with stress and they are common because many of us find them to be successful – at least on the surface, for dealing with stress.
When we’re stressed we work harder. We work faster. We try to get the work done as quickly as we can and more often than not, we try to juggle several things at once. We call on our reserves for energy and those reserves may seem boundless – but they are not. Remember, when we start dragging the bottom of the barrel for every bit of energy we possess – we are leaving very little behind for the people we love and care about.
One of the characteristics of people who are great at coping with stress is the ability to shut down and go numb. I’ve been told I’m one of these people. What happens when we’re under severe stress is that I shut down non-essential systems. I get to work, I work until it is done. I short myself on sleep and I eat easy to prepare meals. I work through the stress by tackling the problem through chunking it into components that I can deal with.
When this happens – my husband is often the first person to notice the changes. I have little time for the small things. I forget to talk to him about anything more than what I am doing. In fact, he can stop me in my tracks by saying – I wanted to talk to you – not get a status report.
Using up our reserves to cope with the everyday problems can leave us with little or nothing to offer our spouses. The best solution for this, at least as my husband and I have found is to do our best to just keep talking. Even if it’s only five minutes talking to each other in the kitchen over a cup of coffee. We talk about more than just what we’re doing to cope with the stress – we talk about banal and inane topics.
Those are the little ways we stay linked and in touch with each other. It also helps us to laugh – laughter is the best stress relief I know outside of exercise. Laughing keeps us in touch with our spouses and partners. Laughter heals. Laughter medicates. Laughter relieves.
What do you and your spouse do to keep the romance and connection alive when you are stressed?