Sterner adds that another consideration is to learn how to acknowledge your emotions early on. "Don't wait until you're ready to explode. As soon as you notice that your stress levels are quite high, let your partner know. If your partner is also stressed, then encourage him to share how he is feeling as well." If you feel you are losing control, say so, and take a few minutes to calm yourself down. If your partner brings up a topic that you know you just can't handle right now, then ask to rather discuss when you don't feel so overwhelmed. "Avoid the temptation to blame your feelings on your partner. They're yours, and you're the only one who can manage them." And, suggests Sterner, if you find yourself arguing over things that you know just don't matter, rather stop. Mention to your partner that you've just realized you have spent the better part of five minutes arguing over a decision that you'll probably never need to make. "Agree to disagree, and leave it at that."

Description: Stress

However, it is also important to acknowledge your feelings, but it's not necessary, or wise, to express them all. And sometimes we need to suppress them, so that we can respond appropriately. It's still important to allow yourself to feel them, to whatever extent you can. That way the little things won't cause a big explosion.

Stride says that often he hears couples bemoan the fact that their partner "is not the person I fell in love with." But it stands to reason you won't be. "People adapt, change and grow. You should be more worried if they were exactly the same person you fell in love with," he adds. The trick, is to continue to grow with each other, and not at odds with each other. For men, stress can manifest as erectile dysfunction; while for women this could mean a low libido or not being able to orgasm - the breakdown in emotional intimacy can lead to a breakdown in sexual intimacy. He adds that you should keep saying "I love you", even if you are worried that it is just a habit. "The day you stop saying 'I love you', and it doesn't bother you, is the day that you need to reassess your relationship." In fact, he says, this may already be too late to salvage. If you have been feeling apathetic about your relationship for three or more months, perhaps it is time to consider cutting your ties. However, Stride adds that couple's therapy can help you find your way back to each other.

Ultimately, stress is an internal response based on how you see a particular situation - the physical circumstances are just the triggers. When you feel too overwhelmed, irritated or frustrated Stride suggests that you talk to someone — your partner, a friend, family member or work colleague. And, if necessary, seek professional help. Sterner agrees: "If there are times when stress controls you, when you feel as if you just can't deal with life, then don't be afraid to get some assistance. We all need a little help now and then. It's when we refuse to get help that the real problems begin."

“People adapt, change and grow. You should be more worried if they were exactly the same person you fell in love with”

Tips to Beating Relationship Stress

Description: Money stress, relationship stress, exam stress, health stress - STOP THEM ALL!

Sandra Hillawi is an international practitioner and trainer in the field of Energy Psychology (www.sandrahillawi.com), and the author of The Love Clinic. She offers these seven tips to help prevent relationship stress.

1.    Stop talking and start listening. As much as we need to be heard and have our feelings recognized, so does the other person in our relationship. By actually listening to your partner and understanding his point of view, you can better understand where he is coming from. This can help diffuse the stress and allow belter communication, so that you are able to talk things out. This in turn will reflect back to you, making it easier for your partner to listen and understand your own stressors.

2.    Give recognition, show appreciation and be kind. Random acts of kindness help us feel good, loved and happy, and your partner will react in turn. By being the one to start this cycle, it leads to a deeper appreciation for each other. "We can get out of the habit of paying attention. But it's an easy thing to start again."

3.    Understand your own emotional behavior. If you are angry, hurt, disappointed or regularly feel unloved, start to become aware of your own behavior. These feelings show where the pressures of life are building up inside your body and where you are perhaps not handling life as well as you should.

4.    Learn to let go. Raking up the past doesn't help your relationship grow. Things happen. Life happens and things are said and done in moments of stress, tiredness or weakness. Realize that what has happened, has happened, and cannot be undone - process this and move on.

5.    Learn to love yourself. Many of us become dependent on our partner to make us feel loved and happy through their actions, words and affection. And when our partner doesn't have the energy, through stress or tiredness, we are disappointed, feel unloved and become unhappy, which in turn perpetuates in our partner. Learn that your love and happiness is independent of your partner's emotional state.

6.    Learn to receive. Sometimes we are surrounded by love, yet don't feel loved as we are fearful of opening up and letting people in. Learning to process and release this fear, and open ourselves to love, can radiate back into our relationships.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes there is too much to handle in life, and our relationships suffer because we are not at our best. And, in such times, it is okay to reach out for a little help. Be this a friend, your partner, or seeking therapy.

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