Life transitions and stressors can have a huge impact on your marriage.
When your relationship is heading toward the rocks, you can expect to feel deeply shaken or anxious. When things are changing or becoming stagnant, you can begin to feel like you can’t find solid ground to stand on. That insecure feeling can lead to feeling that your relationship doesn’t feel stable or dependable.
When this kind of change happens, you’re both having some undesirable, intense emotions. Anger, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and resentment can come up. On the other end of the spectrum, one or both of you could experience emotional shut down. You might even find yourself being extra careful not to set each other off and start a fight.
Difficult times or relationship storms are normal. Emotions go up and down in different transitional periods of life.
Tough times can be tied to relocating, a new job, starting a family, children entering different developmental stages or job stress. The feelings you experience during these times are alerts to pay extra attention to your relationship.
Your brain is hardwired for safety and stability. It sends you messages to let you know you are entering a risky area and that you should take action. Your relationship is a safety net for your survival. When your safety net needs attention and adjustment from time to time, you can feel significant stress.
When you get overwhelmed or enter a shutdown phase, your brain has difficult functioning. Your prefrontal cortex turns off and you enter a fight or flight mode. In this mode, your ability to communicate well is greatly diminished. While strong emotions or withdrawing are normal responses, they make traversing relationship challenges more difficult and can often stop forward progress.
Knowing how your emotions function and how to manage them is the first step to good communication. With the ability to communicate with a fully functioning prefrontal cortex, you can avoid words and actions that lead to fights and instead have useful, cooperative and compassionate conversations that lead to collaborative solutions.