How to Manage Stress in Your Relationship

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

It’s a regular Tuesday evening.

You’ve just come home from a long day at work, and the smallest disagreement with your partner feels like the last straw. Stress — it’s a universal enemy, one that sneaks into our daily lives, and often finds its way into our relationships.

Hi, I’m Marcus Santer, and as a couples only counsellor, I’ve watched countless couples navigate these waters. Today, I’m going to share some wisdom on how you can better manage stress in your relationship.

1. Recognise the signs early

Last summer I tried to fix the toilet flush in my bathroom. I thought I had everything under control, but by the end, water was everywhere, and I had to call in a plumber.

Just like that toilet, if you don’t address the small signs of stress early on, they can flood your relationship. Pay attention to the signs. Is your patience wearing thin? Are you bickering more often? Recognise these signs and take action.

2. Create a ‘stress-free zone’

In my home, there’s this cozy little corner with two armchairs, a lamp, and a stack of good books. This is our ‘stress-free zone.’ When either of us feels overwhelmed, we retreat here. No arguments, no discussions — just some peace. Maybe for you, it’s a balcony, a garden, or even just a particular playlist. Find that place or thing that offers solace and make it your own.

3. Communication is your ally

Let me tell you a story. Years ago, when my wife and I were newlyweds, we had our fair share of stress. Jobs, finances, adjusting to married life – the whole shebang. One day, amidst the chaos, we decided to just sit down and talk about everything we felt. No judgments, no solutions, just an Honest, Open and Kind conversation. It worked wonders. Talking to your partner about what’s stressing you out gives them a chance to understand and support you. It also prevents resentment from building up.

4. Self-care isn’t selfish

If there’s one thing I’ve emphasised to all the couples I’ve met over the years, it’s this: taking care of yourself is paramount. If you’re running on empty, how can you expect to support your partner? Whether it’s a hobby, exercise, meditation, or just a quiet moment with a cup of tea – find what rejuvenates you.

5. Get expert help

There’s no shame in seeking help. Just like you’d consult a doctor for a physical ailment, consulting a couples only counsellor for relationship stress is a smart move. They can provide tools, techniques, and perspectives that can make all the difference.

6. Teamwork makes the dream work

At some point, you and your partner decided to do life together. You became a team on that day. When stress hits, it’s not ‘you vs. them’, it’s ‘both of you vs. the stress’. Think of it as playing doubles in tennis. When one player is having an off day, the other steps in. In the game of life, support each other, strategise together, and win as a team.

7. Establish rituals of connection

Consider how important rituals are to us humans. Births, deaths, marriages, anniversaries. You name it. We’ve got rituals everywhere for pretty much everything. Yet when it comes to connection rituals, it’s sad how few couples have them. Here’s an example. Every morning, before leaving the house my wife and I have a hug and kiss. Whoever is still at home, stands and waves the other off at the door. These rituals, be it: How we part, how we reconnect, daily check-ins, weekly date nights, or monthly getaways, help to maintain a sense of connection, even amidst the most stressful times.

8. Reframe the narrative

It’s easy to see stress as a colossal monster looming over your relationship. But what if you looked at it as an opportunity? Every challenge you face together strengthens your bond and teaches you more about each other. Next time stress knocks, reframe it as a chance to grow together.

9. Laugh together

Ever heard the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine”? There’s truth to it. “Finding the Funny” even in challenging situations can alleviate stress. Watch a comedy, recall a funny memory, or just be silly together. Shared laughter is a potent antidote to stress.

10. Set realistic expectations

We often burden our relationships with unrealistic expectations. Movies, books, and social media paint an image of ‘perfect’ relationships, but the reality is, every relationship has its challenges. Acknowledging that it’s okay to have ups and downs will reduce the unnecessary stress of striving for perfection.


Managing stress in your relationship isn’t about finding a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about understanding, adjusting, and growing together. As you face the storms of life, remember the love that brought you together in the first place. Nurture that love, protect it, and let it be your anchor. Because at the end of the day, when the chips are down, love and understanding can help you conquer any challenge, including stress.

Stay connected, stay strong, and remember that every challenge faced together is an opportunity to make your bond even more unbreakable.

And if you need professional help and support with the stresses in or on your relationship…

…Go here next.

Bye for now.