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Healing the Family Heart
Dealing with everyday family stress

Modern life makes spending relaxed time with family difficult. Grandparents live far away, the cost of living grows faster than family incomes -- which means mom and dad are both working to keep even, kids are busy with sports and other after school activities.

Families are threatened by the stress of everyday decisions and the disappearing support systems that older generations took for granted.

Chores still need to be, cooking, cleaning and home maintenance are all still as important as they ever were. There just seems to be less time to do them and more arguments about who should be doing what.

There was once a time when you held hands, shared intimate conversation with each other, and shared your hopes and dreams. Those happy days slowly became days of silence, arguments, veiled resentments, and an absence of intimacy.

What happened?

The cause is easy, yet easy should not imply simple. The single greatest cause of the collapse of a previously secure relationship is the presence of stress.

The single greatest cause of the collapse of a previously secure relationship is the presence of stress...

Stress can occur masked as marital conflict, financial concerns, health difficulties, or parental challenges. Nevertheless, the root cause is stress. Essentially, stress is the internal reaction to either an internal or external threat. This experience causes your body to shift into a survival mode.

You can only focus on getting the bills paid, how your child is doing in school that day, what will be the results of the medical evaluation, or is he having an affair. Such thoughts typically do little more than continue to feed a system that is already experiencing stress, thereby causing more of the same.

Over time a breakdown must occur in order to allow your system ample time to restore itself. You will either become ill, create an argument that will lead to crying or yelling, overeat, or sleep past time to wake up. All behaviors are an attempt to get the brain and body system to feel better, though oftentimes they only lead to more of the same.

Stress leads to fear, and fear leads to negative behavior. It is very difficult to see the fear of a spouse or partner when we can not see our own.

A simple technique to utilize for ending arguments and restoring lost intimacy is to make a concerted effort to take three to five deep breaths, say to yourself, "I feel scared, and he must feel scared also," take another deep breathe and say, "Keep telling me how you are feeling, I want to hear it." Allow the person to continue venting their anger, hurt, or sadness, while you continue to breathe and stay present in your own fear.

Slowly you will notice the person begin to calm and want to know what you are thinking or feeling.

Reiterate that you want to understand where he is coming from. Before making any statements in response of your own feelings or thoughts, state that you need time to gather your thoughts and then you will share them.

Making an effort toward this very simple but difficult action will leave you feeling both more empowered and more aware of your own internal state of being.

About the Author...
B. Bryan Post, PhD, LCSW is the founder of Post Institute.

also see -> How to Build Stronger Relationships

More about dealing with family stress around the Web:

Coping With Stress Checklist

Ideas For Families - Family Stress

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