You are likely familiar with the current statistic that 50% of relationships such as marriages end in divorce, which might tell us that the majority of couples are not happy, or at least one of the partners is not. Studies show that most second marriages end in divorce too, suggesting that remarried adults may be more likely than adults in first marriages to take steps toward divorce when experiencing marital distress, possibly reflecting a weaker commitment to marriage.
In other words, the second time around many couples may be less committed and less likely to work through the stress that will arise in the relationship. Inability to be able to work through stress together has a big influence on the success of any relationship. A recent study showed that when compared to couples who did not divorce, divorcing couples displayed poor communication, abounding negative emotions, and less social support already as newlyweds. Other studies have shown that couples in troubled marriages produce more stress hormones not only during the conflict but throughout the day and night, than those couples whose marriages are not troubled.
What does this mean? It means that if you do not have good coping tools yourself and you feel stressed or angry on a regular basis, the chances are that a relationship is not going to help you feel better, and it possibly, may make you feel worse as relationships come with conflict. Even more so, this negative relationship will affect you negatively at work, influencing your communication with others and your ability to make sound decisions.
When you take care of your stress and yourself, you and your relationships have a better chance of success. Studies show that individuals who do take care of themselves, who show self-interest without selfishness are happier. When you notice that your stress levels are up, take care of yourself, in other words. Doing so, enables stress hormone levels to go down and clear thinking to resume as higher brain centers are activated.
Taking care of yourself is not that difficult and involves the following steps:
- Nourish yourself and eat foods that fuel your mind and body to be healthy and strong. Foods high in fat and sugar may comfort your stress levels initially, but they also cause inflammation, fatigue and more depression or anxiety. Food is neither reward nor punishment. It is fuel. Follow the Mediterranean diet or the Paleolithic diet, and you might find you have more energy than you have ever had in your life.
- Exercise and stay active, keeping your body fit and strong. Physical activity will also help you raise the happy chemicals in your body like serotonin and lower stress hormones. If you travel regularly, take a long walk or exercise in the hotel gym for thirty minutes.
- Connect with friends, therapists or healers that can support you to feel good about you. In other words, surround yourself with other individuals who can help you reflect and stick to training, a healthy diet, and maintain positive emotions and outlook.
- Quiet your mind. A mind is a wonderful tool, but constant negative thinking can get you and your body in trouble as the stress response abounds. You can choose from a variety of meditation practices or take a mindful walk in nature. Focusing on the beauty and wonder around you will take you out of your mind. One simple technique uses the breath. You can imagine that when you exhale, your thoughts dissolve into the sunlight and when you inhale, the sunlight enters your mind. As you continue with this process, the light eventually moves throughout your entire body, filling you with a sense of peace and joy.
- Catch your negative emotions before they gain so much momentum that knocks you and everyone else over. This means, always pay attention to how you feel. If you feel bad, your stress hormones are up, which means you will be more likely to enter the conflict and not come out of it well. It also means you feel less whole and you will start seeking someone or something else to make you feel better, leading to poor food, partner or word choices in an argument. If you feel bad, do what you need to do to take care of the bad feeling. Go for a walk in nature, call a friend, meditate, or choose to think about a situation or feeling that does feel good. Doing the above exercise is a good option.
- Appreciate what you have and that you are. When you are filled with gratitude, you are more likely to see any situation as an opportunity for growth and meaning, rather than bad or a curse. You are more likely to feel happy.