“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” – Serenity Prayer, attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr
Stress is at the root of many health issues in America. Heart disease, depression, and hypertension are just a few of the many stress-related maladies. Physical health isn’t the only casualty of a stressful lifestyle. In marriages, stress is a leading cause of interpersonal tension and dysfunctional relationships.
There is good news. A lot of the stress in marriage is avoidable when both parties are aware of stressful triggers. Here are 10 things to do to reduce stress in your marriage.
1. Always put your spouse first.
This is a huge principle and key to reducing relationship stress. Ideally, a husband and wife will put the other first, but you only have control over your behavior.
2. Have fun together.
Movies, walks, picnics, games, trips…not just fun but hilarity. Laughing together is great relationship medicine.
3. Build together time into your schedule.
Time with your spouse shouldn’t be relegated to the status of leftovers. Your relationship with your spouse trumps all other priorities and schedules. If that means scrawling relax together on the calendar in indelible marker, then so be it.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
When you feel the first inklings of stress, ask yourself, “Is this a moral issue?” If not (nine times out of ten it isn’t), then let it go. Make your mutual priorities a recurring topic of conversation. Remind yourselves what really counts. Simplify your lifestyle. Celebrate what you have in each other.
5. Give back, and do it together.
Work at the soup kitchen; volunteer with a faith-based community; hook up with a group that helps the less fortunate or restores the environment. Throw yourselves into charitable causes together, and watch things fall into perspective.
6. Communicate clearly and respectfully.