You are a team. You’ve been joined through a covenant of marriage. You’re called to have each other’s back and support one another. King Solomon, wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes,
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)
The antidotes to stress won’t necessarily eliminate the cause of stress. You’ll still have work, children, etc., but the antidotes will alleviate the intensity, vulnerability, and loneliness caused by stress.
Pray for each other. When you know your spouse is going through a stressful season of life at work or in some other way, commit to praying for them. Ask what they’d like you to focus on in your prayers. The very nature of your request will remind them of your support and understanding.
Pray with each other. Joining together in prayer keeps you unified and Christ-centered. A couple of verses later, in Ecclesiastes 4:12 Solomon wrote, “Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” If it’s true of rope, it’s even more true of the couple who keeps Jesus woven throughout their relationship.
2. Time together.
Making intentional decisions to connect is vital during stressful times. Get out on a date night. Do something fun. Give yourselves permission to not talk about the stress.Instead focus on your appreciation and enjoyment of each other. We know you’re probably tired, yet it’s important to be physically intimate. It’s a stress-reliever and it keeps the two of you connected in a soulful way.
3. Time apart.
A friend of ours who is a counselor wisely told us that “every relationship needs air.” If you’re together nearly 24×7, give each other permission to get together with friends. Maybe all that’s needed is time alone in another part of the house. Perhaps you take on watching the kids so your spouse gets a break from normal duties and responsibilities.
Rest may seem impossible, yet as a team you can work together to make it happen. Get the kids to bed on time. Make an agreement to go to bed at a certain time, turn off the TV, put away your phones and stick to a shared bedtime. If one of you needs to sleep in a bit, the other can get up and take care of any morning child duties. Do whatever it takes to get the sleep you need.
Make every effort to keep Sunday set apart for church and rest. Create a weekly rhythm for rest and work. God built rest into his schedule when he created the world and it makes sense to follow his example and his teaching.
What brings refreshment to you? To your spouse? You may be in a season of life when one or or both of you have very little margin and discretionary time. Even so, small increments of life-giving activity can boost your emotional strength to handle stress.
As a team you have the opportunity to encourage and free your stressed spouse to do what refuels their spirit. Perhaps it’s a round of golf. Dinner with a close friend. Uninterrupted time to read for pleasure. Whatever either of you needs, work together to ensure you are able to refuel and recharge.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, the chemical that helps reduce pain and stress while giving an overall sense of well-being. Getting out for a walk, a run, going to the gym or finding some other form of fitness is vital for your ability to manage stress. Encourage each other to exercise. If you have children, take turns watching the kids while the other exercises. Here’s a helpful article on exercise and endorphins: (https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression)
As you walk with your spouse through various stresses, remember that your mate is not your enemy, but your partner and best friend. We all need grace and understanding. You will protect your marriage and preserve your intimacy when you choose to give grace to your spouse. However one should never take advantage of their spouse’s grace either.
As you identify the stress, and work on the antidotes to stress, you and your spouse will learn to attack the issue and not each other. You will stay centered on Jesus as you build your marriage.