According to The New Zealand Herald, a new study says "getting irritated about the small things in life is just as bad for your health as eating a poor diet or failing to exercise." I see couples who stress out about things, large and small, in their relationships. People get upset about not having dirty clothes in the hamper, their partner not keeping their car neater/cleaner, how their partners spend their money, sex and how they discipline the children.
I do a little tweaking to the well-known Serenity Prayer that when followed, can change a couple's experience of stress and their relationship. It goes like this: God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change; Courage to change the one I can; And the wisdom to know that person is me.
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If couples were able to live this prayer, their stress levels would be lower, their satisfaction in their relationship higher, and according to this article, their mental health secured.
Stressors + Perception = Stress
The only factor in that equation people have any control over is their perception. If stressors were perceived differently, stress could be reduced and in some cases, even avoided. So is it easy to change one’s perception? It's as easy as changing one's mind, with practice. [Receive a free report on InsideOut Thinking by clicking here.]
Often, couples make up stories (perception) about each other and why they do the things they do. If these stories are kind to the other person and supportive of the relationship, then there is minimal stress. If, however, the stories assign sinister motives to the other person and say negative things about the relationship, then stress increases.
How we perceive things is a choice. We are making up the stories (perceptions) we tell ourselves. We don't really know why anyone does anything. If we are going to make up stories, why not make up stories that serve us instead of hurt us so we can contain our levels of stress?
Another problem with stress is that we choose to expend time and energy trying to change things over which we have no control instead of seriously contemplating changing the one thing we can change: ourselves.
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In relationships, we often put a lot of energy into trying to change each other. We do it by complaining, blaming, criticizing, nagging, threatening, punishing and bribing our loved one. [See more in my book, Secrets of Happy Couples.] We have a clear picture of what we want our partners to do and how we want them to be. When they aren’t matching our desires, we go on a mission to change the other person. When we aren't successful, our stress level rises and even on those occasions when our efforts do work, stress levels also rise because we are damaging our relationship. Keep reading ...
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