Wake up on time, work out, get the kids to school, pick up the groceries, drop off the package, visit your sick friend, clean that mess in the backyard, go to work, get along with your coworkers, put gas in the car, get in a petty argument with your spouse, get over the petty argument, scold the dog for breaking the lamp . . . are you feeling stressed yet? Daily hassles are a part of every married couple’s life. They kind of suck, huh? But! Although they may never disappear, they can become bearable and less stressful, if we know how to deal with them in a positive way.
As a married college student, I am finding my family adaptation and resiliency class to be extremely helpful. I am learning about how to help families, including my own, deal with many different causes of stress, including daily hassles. I will include one of the concepts we have studied that can help take the unavoidable stressors in our lives and turn them into positive learning experiences.
We all have daily tasks that can start to pile up throughout the course of a day. These stressors are real, and I want to focus on is the stressor of daily marital distress.
Whether there was a mess made in the kitchen, your spouse disciplining your children in a way you did not agree with, your being late to leave, or an argument about that mistake your spouse made last week, marital distress often occurs daily. What causes these daily stresses to happen? I mean, you both know you love each other and there are plenty of great times. So, why do there have to be so many stresses from what seem to be petty arguments? A good place to start looking to fix the problem is in communication.
Communication. That thing we use to say I love you, express gratitude, create inside jokes, and form a relationship could be the same thing causing so many daily marital stressors. Sometimes tensions are high and tempers are short due to all the responsibilities we hold in our lives, and we explode over a simple cup of milk our spouse spilt at breakfast. Then, we say things we don’t think about and don’t mean. It just comes out leaving both parties hurt and stressed. I have seen this same process happen in my marriage. I get frustrated and start to complain without thinking about what I should say first.
My mother once made a cross stich for me that said, “Forgive quickly, kiss slowly,” and I think it applies in this situation. Instead of being quick to anger and slow to rationality, we should be quick to forgive and slow to respond (which can also lead to kissing!). For those minor, harmless daily hassles in a marriage, we need to have better communication. We need to slow down our reactions to analyze the situation and respond rationally, without high emotions leading the response. When we do this, we can resolve the stress quickly before it turns into a monster snowball rolling over the rest of our day.
This is one of many solutions to the daily hassles in a marital relationship. It may not be the solution for every hassle, but it is definitely one to be recognized and considered in our pursuit to ease our daily burdens. Good and healthy communication is arguably the most important aspect of marriage. Let’s all take time to practice it in the stressful moments of life. In those moments, anger might seem easier, but it’s pausing to communicate that will lead to a positive resolution.
BY ELIZABETH HANSEN