How do you respond when your partner is stressed?
It’s a difficult situation, isn’t it? If our partner’s encountering high levels of stress, that can affect every aspect of our relationship with them. It’s easy to want to take that stress for them, to absorb it as your own as a way to help. When they’re stressed, we become stressed, and that can manifest in everything from trouble sleeping to frustration misdirected back at them! It’s easy to feel what your partner feels — when they’re going through a hard time, you want to help. When you can’t, you get caught in a cycle of helplessness that brings everyone down.
Here’s a revelation that can be hard to digest: You don’t have to carry your partner’s stress. In fact, it’s often better for both of you if you don’t.
What? But aren’t we supposed to carry each other’s burdens?!
That’s true. But carrying their burden, or supporting them in a stressful time, has everything to do with your actions — and nothing to do with how you feel. Allowing yourself to internalize stress and worry does not help you or your partner. Maintaining your inner peace and providing a calm shelter from the storm absolutely does.
Showing compassion and empathizing with their struggles is loving. Allowing yourself to be burdened by a stress that was never yours in the first place is not. In fact, unhealthy and it’s absolutely unnecessary.
When you find yourself absorbing the stress of your partner — getting angry or anxious about whatever they’re angry or anxious about — take a deep breath.Remind yourself that feeling stressed won’t help anyone. Listen to them, show compassion, hold them close — and ask how you can help. The calm you maintain will be a source of healing for you both.