Marriage has a way of drawing out all kinds of emotions. Sometimes marriage is tons of fun, but other times it can be unbelievably stressful.
The reality is that some stress is totally unavoidable, but other stressors are completely avoidable. Usually we find ourselves living stressfully simply because we aren’t living intentionally. When we take control of the parts of our lives which we can control, suddenly we experience less stress.
When we gain control of our daily lives, we’re better prepared for bumps that life brings.
Six Ways to Remove Stress in Marriage
#1 | Talk About Your Schedule
Marriage brings two lives together, but bringing two lives together makes each individual life more complicated. There’s someone that should worry about where you are and how you’re doing. That only gets more complicated when kids come along. My oldest is only three. So, I don’t have to drive him anywhere yet but, in a few years, we’ll have two kids old enough for sports, church activities, and sleep overs. Attempting to manage the schedules of 2…3…4….5 people can cause an enormous amount of stress if you don’t have a plan.
Intentionally setting aside time yearly, monthly, and weekly to discuss your family’s schedule is essential.
- Annually discuss major changes and vacations
- Monthly discuss irregular events
- Weekly sync your schedules
#2 | Figure Out Your Finances
Money is the number one cause of divorce in North America!
Let that sink in. It should scare you, and it should shock you into taking money extremely seriously. Losing control in this area virtually determines that your marriage will be defined by stress.
I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey‘s financial system. He focuses on living on a budget, living without debt, and spouses working together. The purpose of all of this is PEACE.
Whether you use Dave Ramsey’s method or not, you need a plan. That’s what is essential!
- Work together
- Live on a budget
- Avoid debt
- Plan for the future
#3 | Don’t Say Things You Don’t Mean
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
I didn’t grow up in a household where my parents fought in front of us. I don’t know what happened behind closed doors, but they never got into heated disagreements in front of us. So the idea of two married people saying hurtful things to one another was a foreign idea to me.
It seems obvious, but don’t say things to your spouse to hurt them! No matter what your spouse has done. No matter how much your spouse has hurt you. Anytime you choose to hurt your spouse, you are choosing to damage your marriage. There’s never a good reason to say something to hurt your spouse.
Hurtful words hurt your relationship!
#4 | Change Your Language
When voicing your frustrations, choose to use, “I feel” language rather than “You ________.” One statement is a reflection of your emotional state or impression. The other is an accusation. Most people become defensive when an accusation is thrown their way. On the flip side, “I feel…” statements provide an opportunity to help the other person understand your perspective.
For example, if you voice a frustration by saying, “When you ___________, I feel __________,” you don’t assign emotion to their action, but you do inform how that action affects you. It provides an opportunity for your spouse to provide an alternative explanation. Instead of making an accusation, you share your feelings.
- Avoid accusations
- Avoid assumptions
- Avoid assigning motives
- Avoid words like “Always” or “Never”
- Avoid assigning meanings to actions
Instead, focus on sharing your perspective and how actions made you feel.
#5 | Communicate Your Expectations
It’s been said before, but most unintentional conflicts in marriage come from poorly communicated expectations. We all walk around with expectations for our life, our marriage, our spouse, our kids, and countless other things. When our expectations aren’t met, our feelings can be hurt.
One of the strangest dynamics in marriage is that we have expectations for the other person’s expectations. For years, my wife assumed that I was expecting her to do a series of things around the house. Five years into our marriage, we had a long discussion about my expectations regarding regular house cleaning. My wife started to list off several of the things she believed I expected of her. I was immediately caught off guard because she was listing off things I’d never even THOUGHT ABOUT, much less expected her to do regularly. She’d spent years doing things which she assumed I expected of her. Simply clearing up my expectations took a huge weight off of her shoulders.
There’s an endless number of areas where each of you have expectations. This is why it’s important that you’re CONSTANTLY communicating and intentionally voicing expectations upfront.
- How many kids do you want to have?
- How busy of a schedule do you want to keep?
- How often will you see your parents?
- Where will you go to church?
- How will you educate your kids?
These are huge areas of life. You need clear expectations for yourself, and you need to make your expectations for your spouse clear.
#6 | Have Lots of Fun
Fun forms friendships!
Fun forms memories!
Fun is the foundation of relationships!
Through all the ups and downs of life, you need your spouse to be the person you want to turn to. Fun is one of the best glues for any relationship. It’s hard to be mad at someone you’re having fun with. Intentionally seeking to have fun makes sure that you keep the friendship alive in marriage.
It’s important that you know how to have fun together without your kids. I’m all for having fun with your kids, but your relationship can’t be based around being parents. You need to be husband and wife to each other first. Let your relationship with one another define your role as the parents of your kids. Don’t let your role as parents define your relationship. Some day, your kids will leave the house, and you need to have a relationship with each other. It’s a lot more fun to parent with someone who’s your best friend!
- Take a vacation annually (find at least 24 hours together without your kids)
- Go on date nights regularly (more than once per month without the kids)
- Find at least a minute every day to have fun!