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Does Your Relationship Induce or Reduce Your Stress?

20130309-153943.jpgWhat if relationships were stress reducing rather than stress inducing?

Is being “stressed out” the new normal? That is the question raised by the 2012 Stress in America Survey recently released by the American Psychological Association. The survey shows that most Americans are experiencing high levels of stress and that their stress has increased in the past year. The survey results show women having higher stress levels than men, but the top sources of stress for both men and women are the same: money, work and the economy.

Unfortunately, some of us experience our relationship as an added stress. Sometimes we may even dread seeing each other when we come home from work at night. But imagine what it would be like if relationships were stress-reducing rather than stress inducing. What if a relationship were experienced as an oasis rather than an obligation? You might look forward to sharing your highs and lows of the day with each other. It would make dealing with the obstacles we inevitably confront in life much more manageable and solvable. That is what is possible if we cooperate, support each other and work together as partners in dealing with the challenges we face, particularly in light of the economic stresses occurring in America today.

Perhaps the most damaging obstacle couples in America face today is an exaggerated individualistic work ethic that says, “produce and achieve at all costs.”  This kind of attitude often increases feelings of pressure and competitiveness within our couple, with loyalty to our job taking priority over loyalty to the relationship and even the family. There is only a limited amount of energy for connecting with others in a day, and if all your capacity for bonding is given to coworkers or clients, the bonds to your couple and family will suffer.

Read more: Phyllis R. Koch-Sheras, Ph.D. and Peter L. Sheras, Ph.D, PsychologyToday

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