Relationship Revamp: 4 Ways to Lighten Up
When was the last time you came home and complained to your partner that your relationship needs more pressure? I’d bet the answer is “Never”, and for good reason. I’ve studied the topic for 25 years and can confidently report these two facts:
- Pressure adversely impacts all relationships.
- Couples that have learned to handle pressure are far better off than their counterparts who can’t.
Relationship pressure occurs when either or both partners feel forced to act/think/feel/ in a particular way to please the other. When we are forced to act in a particular way to gain acceptance, resentment, anger, and insecurity in our partner builds. When he or she succumbs to the pressure put upon them, the decision made is usually regretted.
Regardless of the source of stress, it almost always creates havoc and can sabotage three successful relationship essentials:
Anger often colors communication. Critical and blame-centered comments, interrupting each other, and refusal to compromise are typical communication patterns that occur when one or both partners feel pressured. None help a relationship thrive and all prompt couples to make decisions they later regret.
How You Treat Each Other
Relationship pressure creates anxiety and tension between partners. Because most couples perceive issues that create pressure as threatening, they cope by withdrawing and avoiding the other person involved. In the process, this will decrease affection, support, and statements of reassurance. Each blames the other for their feelings of pressure and resentment and anger are the result.
If there is one room from which couples need to lock out pressure, it’s the bedroom. Pressure affects a couple’s sex life in two ways. First, daily feelings of pressure —whether it stems from work or the relationship — decrease romantic feelings and sexual desire. If this is true for only one partner, the other is apt to become angry and often ends up demanding more sexual activity that intensifies relationship pressure. When it’s true for both partners, the abrupt decrease in sexual desire makes it obvious that there is a “problem,” but because discussion of the topic is perceived as threatening and scary, the conversation is avoided. In essence, pressure creates sexual distance.
What about couples who feel no relationship pressure and desire sexual intimacy? Pressure gets them, too, in the form of “spectating.” The person, usually male, becomes self -conscious and worried about how he is “performing.” The excessive worry about his sexual performance and whether he is pleasing his partner results in blocking his natural sexual response — he fails to perform. In turn, he feels more pressure to perform the next time he is “at bat.”
You and your partner can make your relationship more stress-less by following these steps, designed to keep you and your partner focused in a positive direction, and increase positive emotions that are natural pressure reducers:
1. Share your feelings without blame.
When feeling pressured, tell your partner, “I am feeling pressured,” rather than, “Stop pressuring me,” or, “You always pressure me to do things.” Sharing feelings without blame promotes understanding, positive communication and intimacy, all of which decrease feelings of pressure.
2. Slow down communication.
Before those “pressure conversations,” remind yourself your goal is resolution, not escalation. Remain calm, speak slowly, and breathe normally –it keeps you in control of yourself so you can stay focused on the issues.
3. Keep your bedroom as a stress-free zone.
Reduce pressure in the bedroom by remembering sex is for enjoyment and communicating positive feelings. Focus on pleasure, not performance. Music in the background will also distract you from worrying, about anything.
4. Remember why you love each other.
Spend time appreciating your relationship and celebrate often. Get into the habit of reflecting on past positive times and expressing positive feelings to each other. Doing so increases relationship enthusiasm and optimism. Pressure is inherent in every relationship but those who make their relationships pressure-less have a much better chance to live happily ever after.
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Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D. is a world-renowned psychologist, in the field of pressure management, the originator of criticism-training and the author of two New York Times bestselling books. He has consulted with and developed programs for dozens of Fortune 500 Companies and government agencies and has taught in Executive Education and Executive MBA programs at Wharton, UCLA, NYU, Cornell, Penn State, and MIT. His work has been featured several times in national media including The New York Times Sunday Business Section, and numerous publications. His new book and recent NY Times Bestseller is Performing Under Pressure: The Science Of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most. For more information visit www.drhendrieweisinger.com. Read more of his work here.