Psychological Stress in Marriage

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Robert A. Dato, PhD, NCPsyA

Marriage is a uniquely civilizing relationship based on commitment to mutual development and happiness. Yet the complexity of the marital relationship almost ensures that each partner will experience significant stress at various times throughout the marriage. Here is some basic advice that will help you to manage the stress in your marriage.

ACCEPT YOUR DIFFERENCES. You develop best when you have the opportunity to learn from someone different from yourself.

NO ONE IS RIGHT. Each partner has a perception of events which is suited to his or her needs and wishes, not to the whole of reality.

COMMUNICATE TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS. Regular, ongoing communication between spouses prevents problems from increasing in size and becoming entrenched.

DEFINE YOUR MARITAL ROLES. Roles must be very clearly defined and occasionally modified to achieve and maintain harmony in your marriage.

DEVELOP COMMON VALUES AND INTERESTS. The more common your values and interests and the more similarly you prioritize these, the fewer your power struggles.

TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. When illness or hard times come, the vulnerable partner should be treated with patience, compassion, and love.

LOVE EACH OTHER. Even when all is well, spouses must be sensitive to and fulfill the needs and wishes of each other unless these constitute unreasonable demands.

EXPRESS APPRECIATION. Acknowledge the kind and thoughtful little things your spouse does with sincere verbal appreciation.

IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN. Commit yourself to their growth and development, but do not neglect your own development or that of your marriage in the process.

MARRIAGE ISN'T PERFECT. Nor was it meant to be. Allow your partner to fulfill some of his or her needs and wishes outside the marriage without inducing guilt.

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