Is Stress Taking A Toll On Your Marriage?
Dealing With Stress In Marriage
By Roy Milam
They’re a respectable Christian couple, actively involved in career/homemaking, community, and church activities. But lately, they’ve noticed a difference in their marriage. Those walks and late-night talks that they used to enjoy have all but disappeared. Nowadays they’re too spent for that- and with fatigue taking its toll there’s little time or energy left for fun or romance. Now with the kids and all their activities, they feel even more pried apart by their fast-paced, hectic lifestyle. In spite of the outward appearance of their successful life together, they feel out of touch with one another. Their calendars jammed with crowded commitments and endless activity have left them feeling stressed out, exhausted and isolated.
Does it sound like a couple you know? Admittedly, it sounds a lot like us. How about the two of you?
These days, we find that it’s a rare couple who doesn’t struggle with problems and stress caused by an overcrowded schedule and a fast-paced lifestyle. Almost every married couple we talk to faces the relentless pressures and demands of life that cause them to be over committed, overextended, and overloaded. We all feel the pressure of heavy demands placed on us in this high-pressured world we live in.
Recently, Sue and I recently realized that we needed to work on managing the stress in our lives. So we pinpointed some of the areas that were causing stress and pressure for us: an overcrowded calendar led to stress, too many commitments and not allowing enough time between activities led to stress, not getting enough rest led to stress, and lack of planning led to stress.
The pressures and stress from a list like that can easily isolate us from one another. I get pulled one way, and she gets pulled another, our lives only touching at points. When that happens, there’s little time or energy left for any in-depth relating. Pressure and stress can pry us apart. Unless we as a couple do something to deal with it, the persistent pressures and demands can slowly erode the quality of our relationship.
We’re finding too that it’s an ongoing process. We must continually deal with it. The daily decisions we make can reduce pressure and help us cope with it, or increase the pressure and make it worse. As we hammered out a biblically based strategy for decision making, we were reminded of three good decision making principles:
(1) Set priorities and put God first. (Matt 6:33-34). The decisions we make are influenced by our priorities- what we consider important. Setting priorities is deciding in advance what uses of time and money have greatest value to you. Then you can decide how to spend your time and money on the basis of your priorities, not your pressures.
(2) Seek to make decisions based upon God’s truth. A good question to ask when facing a difficult decision is “What would Jesus do in this situation?”
(3) As a couple, seek God’s wisdom by praying together about decisions. (Proverbs 3: 5-7). When we pray together and look to Him for guidance, He is able to give us the understanding and wisdom that we need to make sound decisions that are in our best interest as a couple and family.
Another thing that helped us was taking a close look at the pace of our lifestyle. Few things are as exhausting and soul-numbing as racing through life from one activity to the next.
If you look at “a day in the life of Jesus,” (Mark 1:21-38) you can see the pressing demands that He faced and how He handled them. Jesus took time out to catch His breath, and refocus His direction in the midst of all the demands and pressures of the day? Verse 35 says: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” Surrounded by hours of activities, in the midst of it all, He found time for quiet stillness – He found a place of solitude to pray.
That’s what we need to do, isn’t it? We need to find time daily for quiet stillness in that place of solitude where as Jesus did, we can refocus and gain a fresh sense of purpose, direction, and energy. The more time we spend in communion with God the less stress we face in our daily lives.
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