How unresolved relationship issues lead to stress and potentially separation or divorce

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How unresolved relationship issues lead to stress and potentially separation or divorce

Many unresolved relationship issues contribute to high stress levels, and if left unresolved can lead to much bigger problems, including separation or divorce.

What once started as small frustrations often become big irritations when ignored. Sometimes we go into denial and focus on activities that take us away from facing our deamons. We concentrate on socialising, shopping, gambling, drinking or bury ourselves in work to avoid the root cause of the stress.

Although avoidance may be an attractive option short term, it will end up destroying what you once valued.

Pat & James

Pat’s doctor referred her for stress management after consulting him with a long-term sleep problem. Pat worked full-time, had an additional part-time bar job and was also doing a part-time degree. She had been married to James for seven years. Pat and James spent little time together and had stopped socialising as all her time was taken up with work and study. Pat claimed she was stressed because of her sleep pattern – she would go to bed exhausted but would lie awake for hours, occasionally drifting into short bursts of light sleep.

At the time of seeing her, Pat was on the verge of mental and physical exhaustion. As we explored the various aspects of her life, it became apparent that Pat was avoiding physical contact with her husband. She was hiding behind work and study to avoid intimacy. She feared sexual intimacy, therefore avoided social contact with her husband through her commitment to work and study.

The source of stress will vary with each person according to how we perceive the situation or issue. Pat’s stress was caused by her avoidance of sexual contact with her husband which resulted in her taking on an excessive workload. For others it may be the frequency of arguments due to a lack of communication, family demands, juggling childcare with homelife and work, or fear of rejection and abandonment. 

There are many external and internal factors that contribute to increased stress levels. Here are a few:

External Causes of Stress

  • Relationship issues, eg. conflicts, affairs, separation, sex
  • Major life changes, eg. house move, bereavement, divorce
  • Children and family, eg. new schools, teenagers, elderly parents
  • Financial commitments, eg. mortgage, bills, debts
  • Christmas, eg. meeting family expectations

Internal Causes of Stress

  • Negative thinking, eg. focussing on problems, difficulties or struggles
  • Being a perfectionist, eg. striving to be perfect in every way  
  • Low confidence or self-esteem, eg. feelings of not being good enough
  • Difficulty with uncertainty, eg. unable to adapt to change easily 

Stress can impact your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing regardless of the root causes. Long term it can lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease or stroke. Here are some of the symptoms:

Physical Symptoms of Stress

  • Low libido or no sexual interest
  • High blood pressure
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Lethargy

Mental Symptoms of Stress

  • Focussing on negatives
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Low memory retention

Emotional Symptoms of Stress

  • Irritable, angry or short tempered
  • Unable to relax
  • Sense of isolation or loneliness
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Behavioural Symptoms of Stress

  • Picking arguments or fights
  • Working long hours
  • Procrastination
  • Withdrawl from social settings

Do any of the above seem familiar to you?

Stress Diary – Keep a stress diary or journal. Write down all demands on you and your time that you have found stressful. It will help you to identify the underlying causes of your stress, analise your responses and explore ways you could react differently.

If you relate to what you’ve read and would like help, contact Carla Devereux on 0121 745 9044 to book an appointment. 

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