May 302017 1 Response

5 Ways a Healthy Marriage Reduces Stress

When times are tough, I want my home to be something I run to. It should be a fortress where we escape from the pressures of the outside world and experience renewal. While every relationship will have its own unique stresses, a healthy marriage should ultimately be a place that makes life better, not worse. It should take away far more stress than it adds. As I pray in most wedding ceremonies I perform, may your home be a place of “safety, rest, and restoration.”

However, when a relationship becomes unhealthy, someone’s home becomes something they run from rather than to. What is supposed to lessen their stress can become their greatest source of frustration. A simple test to see if you need professional help with your marriage is: when you feel stressed, does your marriage increase or decrease that stress?

At its best, marriage makes life better. The comfort of always having someone by your side, the support of always having someone who has your back, and the intimacy of having someone who fully sees you but loves you anyway, makes marriage a special gift. (For more, check out my book Friends, Partners & Lovers)

5 Stress Reducers in Marriage

1. Having someone to take up the slack. There are moments when we have nothing to give. Emotionally we are drained. Physically we are exhausted. If we were on our own, the responsibilities would continue to exist and we would have to push through. But when we are married, our spouse can pick up the slack. The workload can’t shift for too long or it will hinder the relationship, but seasonal situations where one does more than the other is a gift of marriage. If you can tell your partner is stressed, find a thing or two you can do for them. Marriage reduces stress by reminding us not everything is up to us.

2. Having someone who sees what is happening in our lives. Sometimes, just having someone who knows what we are dealing with is enough to help us endure what we are facing. Life can be isolating at times. When we feel unseen, we feel underappreciated and undervalued. It can feel as though we are all alone. While our spouse may not be able to take away a stressful situation, just having them know about it can lessen the feelings of stress. A listening ear can go a long way to making us feel understood. Pay attention and see what your spouse is going through. Marriage is life-giving because we have someone who sees us, cares for us, and is cheering for us.

3. Having someone to tell us the truth. Some stress is self-induced. Sometimes we can multiply the very stress we are trying to avoid. Marriage brings a gift of someone who knows us and loves us better than anyone. This puts them in a unique position to tell us the truth. They can highlight our poor choices, point us in the right direction, and tell us the hard truth that’s intended to help our hearts. When a marriage is healthy, not only can spouses tell each other the truth, but also they trust one another more than they trust themselves. The truth can prevent us from making our stress worse. (See: Can You Tell Your Spouse the Truth?)

4. Having someone whose strengths cover our weaknesses. Some things which are difficult for me are easy for Jenny (and vice-versa). While many weaknesses in our lives have to be overcome, some weaknesses don’t have to be considered because of a strong marriage. If one spouse can do something with ease, the other spouse doesn’t have to worry about getting better at it. As long as one spouse doesn’t feel used or taken advantage of, we can exploit the strengths of each other for the benefit of all involved. Without my spouse’s strengths, my stress would be greater.

5. Having someone who calls us out of ourselves. Marriage demands that we place the other person above ourselves. When stress is high, it can become all-consuming. By choosing to love another person, we are voluntarily putting their concerns/needs above our own. This calls us out of self-absorption and into acts of service. Paradoxically, serving others is a great stress-reliever. While we believe it will add to our frustration, it actually reduces it. Want a good stress-reducer? Serve your spouse.

Marriage, even a healthy one, doesn’t just reduce the stress in our lives. It also adds to us. Even the best of relationships can add frustrations, struggles, and sorrows to our lives. However, a good marriage alleviates far more stress than it adds. As we love one another well, our lives are better for it.

Life is hard enough, marriage shouldn’t make it harder. It should alleviate our pressures rather than adding to them. This is why creating a healthy marriage deserves our full attention and effort. Any energy spent now on making our relationship better will pay off ten-fold over the years as a healthy marriage reduces our stress and makes life easier.

What is your favorite stress-reducing aspect of a healthy marriage?

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