Five Causes of Relationship Stress

Updated on January 12, 2017
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Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.

Are you feeling stressed out about your marriage but you don't know why? Here are some common causes of marital tension that could be slowly building up between you and your partner.


What causes tension in a relationship? Is it money that is making things difficult for you and your spouse? Are you feeling tense about work? Are you having trouble being intimate with one another? These three things---money, work, and intimacy---are some of the most common causes of tension in a relationship. But there are other reasons people experience stress in their relationships.

Ignoring Money Issues

According to many financial experts money problems are the number one cause of marital conflict. But talking about money isn’t what causes tension between couples, it’s not talking about money that can create the kind of stress that can hurt your marriage.

Let's face it, talking about money is taboo. From an early age we are taught that it’s not polite to talk about money. Money-–how much of it you make, how much of it you spend, how much of it you save---is something that many of us are uncomfortable talking about. Perhaps your parents never talked about money matters in front of you when you were a kid and so you don’t know what an adult conversation about money looks like. Perhaps your parents fought about money all the time and because of that you avoid dealing with money issues to steer clear of the kinds of fights and arguments your parents had over money.

Are money problems putting a tight squeeze on your relationship?
Are money problems putting a tight squeeze on your relationship? | Source

Not Showing Appreciation

Being thankful for what you have is one of the easiest ways to get everything that you want out of life and your personal relationships. Taking a close look at all the good things that you already have in your life will help you realize that everything is working just fine. If your husband does things around the house without your having to ask, do you notice and say,‘Thanks’?

We all know how it feels when our efforts at work go unnoticed and unrecognized by the boss. Or how about when you work hard and accomplish an important goal such as getting good grades or reaching a healthy living goal? When friends and family don’t see these successes, it can feel like no cares. Our spouses crave and deserve that kind of attention to. So take a look around, take stock of all the wonderful things your spouse does to make your life easier and more enjoyable and say tell him how much you appreciate him.

Being criticized by your spouse can make you feel isolated and alone.
Being criticized by your spouse can make you feel isolated and alone. | Source

Criticizing Your Partner

One of the worst things you can do to harm your marriage is to criticize your partner. Some people think that criticizing your spouse is limited to mean name-calling. And while name-calling of any sort is absolutely uncalled for in a healthy, happy marriage, it isn’t the only form of criticism that can harm your marriage. Criticism can be more subtle than overt name-calling. It can be heard in statements and questions with the words ‘why’, ‘always’, and ‘never’. Questions that start with the word ‘why’ tend to put people on the defensive. It makes people feel as though they have to explain themselves. And constantly using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ when being critical of a behavior or action you dislike can also hurt your marriage.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? Is your partner? If one or both of you is suffering from a persistent sleep deficiency, it is bound to cause stress in your relationship. Human beings need to get adequate sleep at the end of the day in order to function properly.

If you want to combat relationship stress caused by a lack of sleep you also have to be able to know when to let some issues go so you focus on each others' well-being. If your partner has had a few restless nights, focus your attention of helping him regain a natural sleep rhythm first. Discussing sensitive issues such as sex, money, and work commitments will be much less stressful when you are both fully rested.

Sometimes treating yourself to a manicure or massage at a spa can help reduce stress and  tension in your life and in your relationships.
Sometimes treating yourself to a manicure or massage at a spa can help reduce stress and tension in your life and in your relationships. | Source

Not Allowing Enough "Me" Time

If you’re feeling stressed out about your relationship, perhaps you are not giving yourself enough ‘me’ time. That’s right, spending time alone is important for your relationship. You need to take care of yourself because when you are all wound up, you bring your emotional stress and anxiety into the relationship.

Engaging in quiet meditation each day can decrease relationship tension, strengthen mental and emotional health, and promote physical well-being. Some of the ways you can enjoy quiet time to reduce stress include yoga, meditation, or drawing. You could try laughter yoga, coloring mandalas, or labyrinths.

Keep in mind that "Me" time goes both ways. While you are carving out time for yourself so that you can refresh and recharge your emotional outlook, be sure to extend the same space to your spouse. Encourage him to pursue solo activities that help him get in touch with his inner wisdom.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Sadie Holloway


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