THE 5 RELATIONSHIP STRESSORS
What brings two people together and creates a lasting connection filled with love, passion and excitement? And what is it that can ultimately extinguish that spark? How is it that people who once felt such a deep love and attraction can find themselves feeling alone, misunderstood, even dead inside, because the passion has been replaced with pain? Relationship stress comes in many forms, but it doesn’t have to signal an ending.
The key to avoiding these pitfalls is to understand the common stressors that can negatively impact your relationships and how each source of relationship stress can ultimately devastate your relationship if not addressed. It’s also essential to establish clear lines of communication with your partner so that you both focus on fulfilling each other’s deepest desires and needs, not contribute to greater relationship stress.
LOSS OF ATTRACTION
The only difference between an intimate relationship and a friendship is intimacy. When that desire, that deeper connection, begins to wane, then the passion in your relationship begins to fade.
Why does attraction diminish? This may come as a surprise, but it’s not a physical issue. Loss of attraction is often caused by something psychological and emotional called depolarization. Depolarization takes place when partners no longer have the play of masculine and feminine energies between them. The woman feels too insecure to relax into her feminine core, and the man is bent out of shape and loses his masculine backbone. Many couples spend years this way and get used to the loss of passion. However, attraction can shift in a matter of seconds — a woman could go from tight and controlling to free and radiant once her husband makes her feel appreciated, needed and loved.
IRRITIATION, FRUSTRATION, EMOTIONAL STACKING AND STONEWALLING
To have a good relationship, you need to have five times more positive communication than negative. Often, when you feel a loss of attraction, and you can’t successfully influence your partner, you stop communicating. And in turn, you begin to experience the 4 R’s:
Resistance: This occurs when your partner does something that bothers you, but you choose to not say anything. But when you repress your emotions, they stack, and eventually transform into…
Resentment: Now the resistance goes deeper, and you feel unresolved tension begin to rise to the surface. Eventually you move to…
Rejection: In this space, there’s a level of toxicity, or abrasiveness. When you get tired of being harsh with each other, you go into a level of…
Repression: You feel numb, in a place of learned helplessness. You’ve lowered your expectations for your relationship and found other vehicles to meet your needs — your work, your kids, friends, etc.
How do you escape the 4 R’s? You need to reverse the negative stacking that causes stress on relationships and create mutual patterns of openness, connection, and love.
LOSS OF PHYSICAL PASSION
Frustration and irritation will ultimately lead to the loss of physical passion. Why? Because in order to experience passion, you and your partner need to be open with one another.
If you’re feeling critical of each other, or feeling misunderstood or neglected, then you will put up walls. This blocks the possibility of passion and connection, and only perpetuates the lack of intimacy. If left unaddressed, then there is the danger of inflicting permanent damage on the relationship. You must make it a priority to put yourself in a state that promotes passion, not tension and upset.
LOSS OF COMMITMENT
Once you experience a lack of attraction and passion, your energy goes elsewhere. You find that you are in a happy state with others – your friends, your colleagues – but not at home. This leads to a waning commitment to your partner, in that you are no longer focusing your undivided attention and energy towards your partner. You are not committed to understanding your partner or to meeting their needs. Maybe you chalk this relationship stress up to external factors, like young children or all-consuming work. But this is the beginning of the end for your relationship.
How do you stop this loss? You need to make sure that there’s no threat — that you don’t have one foot out the door and that nothing or no one else is a higher priority than your partner. You must make your partner feel that fulfilling their needs is an absolute “must” for you.
STORY OF INCOMPATIBILITY
Feeling incompatible comes from not meeting each other’s needs, not being put first and not making it a priority to understand each other in a sincere, heartfelt way.
Sure, some couples are just fundamentally incompatible. It has nothing to do with relationship stress. But remember, no couple even stands a chance if they are not meeting each other’s needs. You don’t know your true potential together until you’ve taken care of the fundamentals and made sure that you are meeting each other’s needs.
To do so, you must take control of the meaning you are creating. So many of us create stories around our partners – who they are, how they treat us, how they see us, how we fit into their lives and vice versa. And once you have a story about your partner, you will find evidence to make it true. You must be careful about the stories you create about yourself (for example, thinking that you are not attractive enough or good enough) and the stories you create about your partner. Because your story dictates how you think and what you do, and that can be empowering or create severely damaging stress on relationships of all kinds.
So what is the story of your relationship? What’s the story you need to move your relationship forward? Remember, we have the power to control the stories that define us and our relationships. Relationship stress is part of what allows us to learn more about ourselves and others — and it’s never too late to rewrite your story.