How do you handle stress? Use stress coping strategies to help manage stress.
Let’s discuss healthy coping mechanisms for your relationship. When I talk about healthy coping mechanisms, I end up talking about relationship traps. What are relationship traps? Relationship traps are when you’re on a separate page from your partner and always ends in a blow-up or a stalemate.
There are four common relationship traps:
The Right-Wrong Trap
The right-wrong trap is when one partner tries to convince the other partner that they are right.
What’s the problem with that? The problem is someone is the winner and someone is the loser. That is not a resolution. Sure you may win, but this leaves the other person feeling like a loser. This is not a healthy long-term resolution.
The Should Trap
The should trap is when someone has a lot of information and they want to share it. They want to share the information to try and get the other person to think in the same way. What this really ends up being is pummeling them with information. This may leave the other person feeling overwhelmed and confused. They may go along for a while, but there isn’t a resolution.
These are the people that will get information from WebMD, the internet, books, and then tell their partner what they should do, or what others should be doing. They lay all of this information on their partner, and they may go along with it for a while. This is a short term solution and an added problem of adding shame to your partner.
Your partner is an adult and they do things in their own way and their own time. Just because it’s not how you would do it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or bad.
The Fantasy-Other Trap
This trap is the fantasy that the other partner has some kind of magical powers to read your mind. This is the person that tries to convince themselves that their partner has known them for so long, and they should know. Guess what? Your partner can’t read your mind, it’s never going to happen.
When you have a problem you need to speak up about it. When you have a need for something tell your partner. He or she is never going to know what the huffing and puffing or banging things around are about. They’ll never be able to read your mind.
This is not an effective resolution, it’s a trap that gets you caught up in mistrust. There is an unspoken agreement between healthy adults that they will speak up when they need something. Even if your partner could read your mind, and they swept in and fixed the problem it would be invasive. You may have a problem, but you may not need or want help. It’s imperative that you speak up if you want help. He or she is trusting you to do that.
The Fantasy-Self Trap
This is the idea that you have some special power to read the future or see the future. People who are stuck in this trap kick the problem and resolution down the road by declaring they know their partner is going to be mad. They know something bad is going to happen if they bring up the problem. So what happens? The problem goes underground and there is no real resolution that causes chronic stress.
You end up in a trap, where you think “I know what’s going to happen, so I’m not going to say anything,” but you don’t know. If you brought it up once, and it didn’t go well. Remember, you and your partner are not the same person you were five years ago, five days ago, or even five minutes ago. Who knows what your partner was going through at that time, and it’s your responsibility as an adult to state the problem. If it does go south like you thought, (and I would say in my office, 95% of the time it does not) then use one of the bridge statements from this article.
You can say something along the lines of “this is not how I wanted the conversation to go. I don’t want it to be an argument, we can try again after dinner.”
If it goes well, realize that you really can’t predict the future and that stating it is a better idea.
By avoiding these traps, and finding a real resolution you will have the real stress-management you need for your relationship.
If you are struggling with how to implement stress coping strategies, we are always here to help! If you have any questions or would like to seek help, call, or text for more information on how we can help you, 757-340-8800.
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