How to Stay Connected During Stressful Times

According to the Gottman Institute, couples that manage stress well fair better than couples who do not. How you handle the outside stress is the difference between feeling like a team vs feeling like roommates who share space. When we are feeling out of control, it helps to focus on what we can control. You control if you tune into your spouse. You control if you listen to understand when your spouse is sharing a concern or complaint. You control if you ask for what you need and ask your spouse what they need. If your partner feels you are tuned in to them, it helps reduce their stress and makes them feel emotionally secure. There are three things you can tune into that will make a big difference: Respect, Responsiveness, and Rituals.

Showing respect is conveyed by attitude, tone of voice, listening, and valuing your partner’s thoughts and feelings even if you do not agree with them. It means tuning in to what your spouse needs to feel safe and secure and making that a priority. Treat your spouse the way you prefer to be treated. Take responsibility for your own behavior and how it impacts your spouse. Disrespect is shown by yelling, being dismissive, name-calling, listening to respond, and ignoring your partner.

Responsiveness is about being intentional to interacting with your spouse in connecting ways. Speak their love language consistently. If you do not know their love language, take the online test and ask them what behaviors would make them feel the most loved and valued. If you ask a question, listen to their answer. Ask open-ended questions and listen to the answer with a curious attitude. Validate their thoughts and feelings even if they are different from yours. You choose whether to be a sense of safety for them in a world that can feel unsafe or be dismissive and make them feel they are on their own.

Examples of being responsive are:

  • How are you doing?
  • I don’t know how you do it all right now.
  • I would feel that way too.
  • I am here no matter what.
  • We will get through this together.
  • This really is so hard.
  • What are doing well right now as a couple?
  • What can I do to help you?
  • What do you need from me?

  • The third thing you can do to stay connected is to have rituals of connection. Rituals of connection are always important but are even more important during stressful times as they help you feel grounded in your relationship. This helps with the sense of we or us. Keep up hello and goodbye rituals no matter how your schedules are off or even if you are irritated with one another.

Here are some ideas for rituals of connection. Try to eat dinner together most nights. Watch your favorite show together. Have consistent dates. Lunch dates count. Look for opportunities to have Date Nights at home. Have rituals around birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Share the good and bad highlights of your day with each other when you get home from work. Decide how you want to say good night to one another and make it a ritual of connection. We have a choice on whether we make intentional efforts to connect with our spouse. Connection in relationships happens when we choose to make small consistent efforts. Perfection is not possible and you do get credit for making an effort. So get out there and make some efforts to connect to the people that matter.

#relationships #relationshipcoaching #connection #ritualsofconnection #choosetoconnect

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