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Damsels in DeStress: 4 Ways to Manage Relationship Stress

Ever get the feeling that your emotions are getting the better of you?

You’ve spent all day at work, listening to whining customers, sitting in traffic, picking up and dropping off the kids, listening to the word 'MUM' two hundred times, running to the supermarket, organizing a birthday, fixing dinner AND there you are - trying to have a civilized conversation with your husband about how you would like to: get the kids into bed on time or reduce the time your teenager spends on the computer or plan a family vacation...

…when all of a sudden your husband says the wrong thing at the wrong time and you just LOSE IT!!!

Instead of the calm, quiet, “I can handle everything” mum, out comes this scary angry shouting creature, completely unrecognizable. The kids are looking at you in a strange way and you know you’ve lost it but it just feels soooo good to let it all go?

That’s what I would like to coin the “Exploding Spaghetti” effect.


Imagine each task you need to handle as a string of spaghetti. For each task that you add to your life, that pile of spaghetti gets higher, and higher and more and more tangled. Wow, that plate is looking pretty unstable. Are you sure you can handle all of that?

Now, let’s add some heat. Put that huge plate into the microwave for one tiny extra minute too long. Big mistake. Yup. Exploding spaghetti!!

It’s exactly the same with our emotions if we don’t know how to manage them. We take on more and more and ignore the signs of stress – irritability, restlessness, sleeplessness, overeating. When we're in that state of stress and the wrong button is pressed...things can get really messy.

What we need to do is manage our spaghetti on two levels:

1. Get some of that spaghetti off our plate. Acknowledge that we’re doing the best job we can and that it’s okay to say “No.” You’re still a great person doing a great job.

2. Change the way that we emotionally interact with the spaghetti that is left on our plate.


In her book “Emotionally Intelligent Living” author Geetu Bharwaney suggests the following for managing a stress-free relationship:

  1. List the different situations that make you angry or frustrated. It can be things, that your partner says, does, or does not do.

  2. Rank these situations according to the frequency with which they occur – 1 being most frequent to 10 least frequent.

  3. Identify what YOU need to do about each one. Here are your options:

  • Forgive

  • Forget

  • Discuss it and express your view

  • Acknowledge that you need to change this otherwise the relationship will suffer

  1. Handle the “hot buttons” in your relationship now that you know what they are. By keeping open communication about important issues, it allows you to discuss, recognize and let them go.


In other words, you need to analyze which issues in your life are important to you and cannot be avoided. For these issues, find the time to discuss how you feel, why the issue is important to you and work out how you can see eye to eye.

Just as importantly is to work out what really is NOT important. What’s the cost? What genuine meaning does it bring to your life? If you cannot easily think of the real importance behind an act you’re performing, then it’s time to let it go. It takes too much energy fighting all those battles.

The other thing you can do to reduce your stress levels is to find ways to relax, such as meditation, yoga, taking walks in nature... Methods such as Mindfulness have been proven to be just as effective in reducing anxiety as taking anti-anxiety medicine! Make relaxation a priority in your life, and you’ll find the time to do it.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get untangling!

P.S. Try to go for the whole wheat spaghetti – the kids will hardly notice the difference and you’ll be getting some more fiber into your meal:) Beteavon!!

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