• Darrell & Robin MacLearn

Keys To Reducing Stress in Your Marriage…Re-Connecting

Frequency: Daily Reps: 1 Time: 20 – 30 minutes Intensity: Medium Workout: Core

Exercise Overview As you reunite each day, reconnect.  For about 20-30 minutes engage in “stress-reducing conversation.”  These conversations should be timed well and not “stress- creating” vent sessions about your marriage.  The key to these conversations is to discuss and support each other on things outside your marriage.  It is an opportunity to support each other emotionally concerning other areas in your lives. 

Core Training Your core in your marriage is your connectedness. It is your intimacy. Your core is that muscle system that is critical to your balance and stability. It is at the center of your body and affects your entire body. Your core can't be ignored!

Deeper Dive Stress… ever go on a date and just come home more stressed than when you left? Ever walk through the door and you can just feel the tension and you just want to turn around and walk back out?  Ever, with good intention, enter a conversation with your spouse and when it is over wish you had never opened your mouth?  The date that was supposed to be a time to reconnect produced more stress.  Coming home to your place of refuge simply produced more stress.  That talk that was meant to help only seemed to add more stress to your life.

There are stress producers and stress reducers.  Often times it is when and how the conversation is entered that makes a difference.  It is also the topic of discussion.  

In this exercise, we are encouraging you each day to intentionally and strategically enter into “Stress-Reducing” conversations.   One of the goals of this workout is to help you and your partner manage the stress in your life that is not caused by your marriage. We all have stress in our lives that is unrelated to our marriage that affects our marriage.  Reconnecting conversations or as John Gottman puts it, “these ‘how was your day dear?’ conversations” are an opportunity for you to support and encourage each other.  They are “I’ve got your back” conversations.  This is not the time to “fix” your spouse or show them how much at fault they are for the stress.  This is an opportunity for them to “dump their day” with someone who loves them and will listen and let them decompress.

Research has shown that couples who learn to do this generate long term health in their relationships.  Neil Jacobson, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, has found that one of the key variables in relapse after marriage therapy is whether stress from other areas of your lives spills over into your relationship.  Couples who are overrun by this stress see their marriage issues needing therapy relapse, while those who can help each other cope with it keep their marriages strong.

I have found in our own marriage that when Robin allows me to just dump my day and she is compassionate with what I am going through and I know she has “got my back” and cares about the things that stress me, I am drawn to her.  It is in these moments our marriage muscles grow stronger.

3 Keys to Stress-Reducing Conversations

1. Timing matters.  Some people like to walk through the door and dump.  Others need a few minutes to decompress before entering the conversation.  Be sensitive to each others’ environment.  Don’t walk through the door and assume she is just ready to talk or vise-versa.

2.   Topic matters.  This is a time to talk about whatever is on your mind outside your marriage.  This is a time to emotionally support each other concerning other areas in each others’ lives. 

3.   Listening matters.  This exercise requires active listening.  Listening with empathy and without judgment.  This requires supportive listening to hear the pain, hurt, and even what is underneath and what your spouse is not saying with words.

Workout Specifics

  1. Take turns

  2. Don’t give unsolicited advice

  3. Don’t try to fix your spouse to fix the problem

  4. Show genuine interest

  5. Communicate your understanding

  6. Take your spouse’s side

  7. Express a “we against others” attitude

  8. Express affection

  9. Validate emotions

  10. Postpone solution conversations

It is not necessary to formalize these conversations but it is necessary to have them. Allowing each other some “dump” time each day is critical to an XtraO marriage. What does this look like in your marriage?  Is it a structured “formalized” time for you and your partner or does it just happen naturally as you reconnect at the end of a workday?  Do you have these kinds of conversations intentionally?  We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below. *content for this blog adapted from John Gottman’s work*

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