How to Keep Stress from Killing Your Relationship

How to Keep Stress from Killing Your RelationshipHow’s your stress level? Are there days when you feel overloaded? Days when, as much as you care about him, stress affects how you treat your guy?

Anna would understand. She’s a busy woman. She works fulltime, juggles an active social life, her boyfriend, and time in the gym, all while dealing with a 30-minute commute to and from work.

A few days ago, she was trudging home from a long day at work when she got pulled over. Speeding. There goes the shopping spree she was considering.

Then her boss called. Major problems with a big client. Yay.

Then she stopped off at the store for groceries. Distracted as she was, she forgot several things and had to go back in. And when she got home, she chipped one of her newly manicured nails while bringing in the food.

She was ready to scream.

That was when she ran into her boyfriend. He was delighted to see her, excited about dinner and a relaxing night. But it didn’t end up being the pleasant evening she’d been looking forward to.

Anna was past her breaking point, and her boyfriend paid the price. He hadn’t done anything wrong, but she was snippy and irritable. They ended up fighting when what she really wanted (and needed) was his support.

Maybe you’ve been there, too.

Stress is just a part of life. You can’t avoid it completely, especially if you have a packed schedule like Anna. Left unchecked, stress will have a negative effect on your relationship. Tense people tend to take out their stress on their partners.[1]

Since you can’t stop stress, how do you keep it from having a negative effect on your relationship?

The most important thing is to be aware of it. Recognize you’re stressed when you’re stressed. That’s essential.

Once you have that self-awareness down, there are a handful of practical things[2] you can do to ensure that your bad day doesn’t lead to a frustrating setback with your man.

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Be Friends with Your Man (Just Not All The Time)

How To Be Friends with Your ManDo you consider your partner a friend? You should.

Sometimes.

The French philosopher Jean de la Bruyere once said, “Love and friendship exclude each other.”

This is a deep topic. I mean, think about what the average dating relationship is like.

There are similarities to friendship, for sure. You share mutually enjoyable activities, hang out, talk, support each other, and generally stay in close communication. That doesn’t sound all that different from your connection with your best friend.

And then there’s the stuff you DON’T do with your best friend. Like kiss.

In one sense, an underlying friendship makes romance stronger. But, to our French friend’s point, there’s a reason we use terms like “the friend zone” to describe guys you’re not into. Friendship is NOT romantic love.

Researchers have even studied the tension between the two concepts. Here’s what they found.

When you’re not friendly toward your guy, he’ll want you more. Basically, he’ll be more inclined to chase what he doesn’t have. But without the underlying likeability of friendship, he’ll be less satisfied with what he gets when he catches you.[1]

What a catch-22. Be his buddy, but kill the passion. Or keep the passion alive, but crush your actual connection.

How in the world can you be friends with your guy without wrecking the romance? You have to be his part-time friend. Sometimes he’s your pal, and sometimes he’s your MAN.

Striking that balance is tricky, but doable. You have to intentionally cultivate both the friendship and the romance. That means doing two things…

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3 Rules You Need to Know about Men

How To Understand MenI can’t get away with saying that men aren’t complicated.

Women don’t believe me. They’ve been on the receiving end of too many mystifying texts or communication blackouts. If men were simple, wouldn’t they say what they mean and cut the games?

But if I said, “We guys are not complicated,” to a roomful of guys, every single one would nod. Men don’t see themselves as complicated. We like to think we’re pretty straight-forward.

So who’s right? Are men simple or mysterious?

I’ve come to realize that male behavior is mystifying to women—but not to other men.  It all makes sense once you learn the male code.

A friend of mine, who also writes about relationships, spends a lot of time reading books written by men for men about what it means to be a man. She says it’s been a huge eye-opener for her. She had no idea men worried so much.

She now understands that men don’t really inhabit the same world she does. What he sees and what she sees can differ a lot. She can’t figure out his behavior by putting herself in his shoes, because his shoes don’t fit.

It works both ways. Sometimes I recommend that men read a romance novel, to give them insight into female fantasies. They resist it every step of the way. They’re sure they’ll hate it.

But it gives them a lot to think about. They may have never thought about why romance and passion matter. They start to see it’s less about how they perform and more about how she feels.

The male code has gotten a lot of attention in recent decades. Authors like Sam Keen and Robert Bly raised awareness of the harmful and heroic sides of manhood. Most men are now aware that becoming a man has as much to do with culture as biology.

But what are the unwritten rules of manhood? And how do they affect you?

Here’s a quick introduction.

Male Rule #1:
Think logically.

True or false?

Men are rational; women are emotional.

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The Balance of Power in Your Relationship: Practicing Relationship Yoga

Creating Balance In A RelationshipI was visiting with a friend recently. She’s checking out yoga for the first time. I asked her how she likes it, and her feedback was mostly positive.

Except for one area.

“I had no idea I was so bad at balance,” she said. “Seriously, do you know how many times I’ve almost fallen on my butt in front of everyone?!”

It’s true. Balance is one of the hardest things – in yoga and in life. In life, balance allows you to achieve a higher quality of life.

Author and speaker Susan Piver has this to say about balance in yoga. “Is it ever possible to be balanced? I don’t think that it is, because then you’d have to freeze in that position. ‘Got it. Now don’t move.’”[1]

Maybe you can hold a yoga pose for a few deep breaths, but you can’t live your life in that pose. You’ll have to move and walk and do stuff. And as soon as you engage in life, balance is broken.

Literally, every step you take, you’re working to maintain enough balance to avoid “falling on your butt.”

Which makes me think about relationships. Do things ever really level out into a steady rhythm?

One of the most common relationship issues I hear about is the struggle for balance of power. Who calls the shots? Is it even possible to achieve balance?

I think it is . . . if you change your definition of balance.

It’s normal for power to shift back and forth between you and your guy. In that sense, you’ll never have a balanced relationship. At least not for long.

There may be rare moments when you’re both complete equals, but as soon as something happens, one of you takes the lead. That’s healthy.

But things get dicey when one of you ends up with the upper hand all the time.

As neuroscientist Berit Brogaard points out, “the controller will lose respect and admiration for the person who puts up with them, and the follower will build resentment.”[2]

Yeah, that’s not going to create a lot of warm fuzzies. So let’s change our definition of balance.

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