In the chaos that is life, we often get bogged down with situations both in and beyond our control. While stress can hurt us physically by making us sick, exhausted, and generally worn down, it also is a difference maker in our relationships and marriages.

In order to reach optimal marriage fitness, we have to figure out how to reduce stress in our lives. It may mean getting more physical and exerting some pent-up energy through exercise, centering ourselves through yoga or meditation, or catching a comedy show and laughing to reduce stress. Find whatever that outlet may be to regain your balance and health and strengthen your relationship. Here are some signs that maybe things are getting a little intense.

  1. Your libido has tanked
    You’re exhausted, burnt out, and not sleeping well. You’re not in the mood to speak to anybody, let alone be intimate with your spouse. Stress causes spikes in adrenaline and cortisol, which suppress the hormones needed to get in the mood. It may be time to step back and reevaluate your schedule.
  2. You’re taking your stress out on each other
    Bad days happen. We all have setbacks and encounter rough patches. When troubles seem to overwhelm us, though, we need an outlet to vent the steam. Unfortunately, for many that means taking it out on their spouse by picking fights over little things and being overly critical.
  3. You’ve become emotionally unavailable
    Your spouse is having a bad day and needs to talk about it with you. Innocent questions such as, “Are you feeling okay, baby?” will either shut you down or set you off. If you find that nearly everything is making you irritable, it may be time to look to a relationship coach for help.
  4. You forget how to be in tune with each other
    Stress and its related hormones block our ability to read our partner. Suddenly, your intuition goes haywire. Your reactions and feelings are being projected onto your spouse. You forget how to express and receive love, leaving you disconnected. It’s common for couples who fall out of sync with each other to wind up in divorce court.
  5. Your relationship is cracking under the strain
    You keep bringing your stress home with you, which is now growing to consume your relationship. You and your spouse are at each other’s throats, blowing up over little things, and probably sleeping in separate rooms. When my son was born, my husband and I were so stressed and sleep-deprived that all we did was argue. It’s amazing how much a full night’s sleep helped to turn things around.
  6. Anxiety
    Everywhere you look you see signs of doom. You are worried about the sky crashing down around you. You become short-tempered and wired, and maybe experience the odd panic attack. Not only does anxiety place strain on your health and your relationship, but it’s also contagious. It doesn’t take long for your spouse to feel the pressure as well.
  7. Nothing is satisfying anymore
    One of the unfortunate side effects of stress and the inevitable crash afterward is the lack of satisfaction normally good things in your life would bring you — including your marriage. Stress will cause a person to fixate and project, leading him or her to inadvertently sabotage his or her own relationship with criticism and put-downs. Satisfaction is one of the key components to successful married life.

Stressed marriage photo available from Shutterstock