Relationships + Stress


“Marriage + Parenting: Potentially the most beautiful and the most challenging things you ever do in your life.”


This is what my husband and I have told our three kids over the years.


We wanted to keep it real for them, acknowledge this verbally even though they could see it played out in our home. We wanted them to hear us talking about how being in close relationships isn't going to always be sunshine and roses and when it's not, that doesn't necessarily mean something terrible is wrong. 


...because let’s face it, being in relationship with another human being usually has lots of ups and downs. (If they’d all only just see the world MY way, it wouldn’t be so stressful - can I get an Amen?!)


I’ve realized over the years that while sometimes the struggle in relationships is about the other person, often it's about me. Specifically, one of the things that probably has caused me the most stress in my relationships has been me being in my head so much.


It’s me thinking about what I am going to say or do next and what if he says this or does this, then I’m going to say or do this. What if she sends me an upset text then how will I reply? What if he won’t do what I want him to do, then what?


Instead of being present in the moment, I would find myself creating all kinds of stories and scenarios around my relationships that mostly never even happened. And, even if they did, my dramatizing it all didn’t really help.


To be honest, it was not only stressful, it was exhausting.


After many, many years of learning about relationships and ‘working’ through therapy myself and at times with my husband, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about all things relationships. Except as you already know, knowing and doing are two very different things and we humans are just, well, messy.


So a few years back, there we were one day. Mike and me, in our bedroom, in the middle of an afternoon, arguing. We were hurt and we were mad at each other. My throat was tight and there was fire in my belly. And I was in my head, thinking of all the things I was going to say when he finally stopped talking. I really, really wanted him to see just how right I was.


And, then, there was this moment when I realized: ‘Angelle, you are not even present enough to hear what he is saying and know what he’s really feeling. Do you want to fight to be right or do you want each of you to feel heard and understood at the end of this?’


I believe God is always communicating with me but I don’t always have an open enough heart to feel the message. This time, there must have been the slightest opening though because I took a breath. Probably more like 5 or 6. Deep ones, but not so noticeable they would annoy my husband and send us down a whole other path.


After taking those breaths, I set the intention to listen to what he was saying and to notice what was ‘underneath’ what he was saying. I wanted to better understand him in that moment.


It was what I call an anchoring experience. It anchors me still, all these years later, to knowing at a deep level, that in my relationships I am capable of shifting from stressed to calm in a moment and that shift can change the way both people experience the relationship. It can create an opening for us to turn towards each other instead of away from each other.


And, because well-practiced patterns and habits don’t always change on a dime, this is an ongoing practice for me. I’ve realized that being intentionally present truly is a practice that not only enriches my relationships, it helps me feel more calm in them more often AND it helps me trust my intuition (God, Spirit, Wisdom) to make better choices and have more meaningful connections with people that I am in relationship with.


xo Angelle

xo Angelle

Here’s a mindfulness invitation for you to practice the next time you are feeling really stressed in a relationship: Notice + Name what you are feeling, with your version of,  “I’m feeling cray-cray right now with this person and my stress-level is through the roof.” Next take three slow, deep breaths and ask yourself, “How do I really want each of us to feel at the end of this exchange?”  Then proceed from this calmer, more centered space.


This doesn’t mean you’ll never argue or fight again (trust me), but learning HOW to move from stress to calm in relationships can definitely foster more closeness and understanding.


How does this land for you? What else do you do to lessen your relationship stress? We’d love to hear from you.

P.S. Want guidance around Stress + Relationships, {{firstname}}?


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