General Question

funkdaddy's avatar

Do you let your partner stress on their own?

Asked by funkdaddy (17643points) July 23rd, 2016

Everyone has stress in their relationships that isn’t necessarily related to the relationship itself. Whether it’s jobs, kids, friendships, family, money, health, whatever life throws at you.

Do you let the “other half” of your relationship handle their own stress level, or do you jump in and try to help? How do you each communicate you need help? Do they need to ask directly? Do you jump in if you notice stress on their part? How long would you let either party stress before making changes?

I’m looking for other perspectives and methods that have worked for you or that you’ve appreciated from others.


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19 Answers

Mariah's avatar

Good question. Unfortunately in these situations, there isn’t much I can do for Matt except listen to him, but I try to at least do that, and he does too.

I was recently laid off, and he let me cry on his shoulder a lot, and he even spent a whole evening with me helping fix up some old code I had written to get it into presentable shape for a company I was applying to that had requested a code sample as part of their application.

Right now he is dealing with a potential medical problem for the first time in memory. He was born without one of his femurs so he has a prosthetic leg, and he’s having unexplained pain in the malformed leg right now, which has never been a problem for him. I feel pretty helpless to do anything except check in with him about how he’s feeling, let him take it easy, and listen to him. I’m not used to being on this side of the equation and it’s a terrible, powerless feeling. I offered to go with him to his upcoming doctor’s appointment but he said there was no need for that.

To a certain extent we both just have to handle our own shit, but we try to be there for each other in handling the emotional aspect of the bad things that happen.

Jeruba's avatar

When he’s stressed out, I usually offer something: to listen, to distract, to do whatever helps. After a lot of years, I know when to offer. He doesn’t have to tell me that he’s having trouble waiting for the oncologist’s report.

He’s not good at asking for support, but sometimes he does. Then I know it’s really severe.

What’s hardest for me is leaving him alone when that’s what he wants.

zenvelo's avatar

I have learned not to “try to fix things”. I listen, and offer support, and ask if there is anything I can do to help.

And, I voice affirmations in a way that are not seen as merely a response to her stress. I thank her for things, and I tell her how much I appreciate little things she does that she considers routine.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband is going through a lot of stress now and I don’t know what the hell to do. I am trying to say very little and just do my responsibilities so he doesn’t have to think much about anything except what he is dealing with. Needless to say I have been imperfect at doing what I listed above. I wish I knew what to do to take the stress off of him.


Seek's avatar

I listen, and listen, and listen…

And eventually he’ll ask what I think, and I’ll give my advice, and then I’ll listen some more.

When I’m stressed I usually ask for time alone, and he takes the kid out of the house for a while so I can decompress in peace.

anniereborn's avatar

We have been together for 11 years now, so we tend to know when the other is stressed. We are also very good at communicating and being open. So, we basically just ask what the other needs and do our best to be that for them. This could be anything from talking to going out and getting them their favorite treat to letting them be alone for however long they need. My husband is very good at this.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I was married to Swede. They get real quiet and distant when they are troubled. Very independent. Spooky. So, I would find her on the couch deep into her problem and just kind of snuggle. Sometimes you could tell it wasn’t the right time, but other times she would snuggle back a little.

Either way, she knew I knew that things weren’t going her way and, although I couldn’t do anything about it, she knew I gave a damn. Sometimes I could distract her a little, get her to crack the slightest involuntary smile. Then I knew I could get away with a little clowning. I’m a good clown. And I could get her out of the funk for a little while. Eventually, she would solve the problem or adapt, and things would be back to normal.

If the clowning didn’t work, dinner always did. She was a foodie and I was a pretty good cook. If I could get her to the table, we could have a conversation and I would listen mostly. This helped.

She had problems in the two years she worked on her second Masters. Foreign language, different culture, one real asshole of a professor, long distances to drive between classes and labs, with an apartment in Miami and home on the opposite coast. It cost us over two hundred grand in the early 90’s. It was a tough two years. I did a lot of cooking, and she gained a lot of weight. But we got through it.

funkdaddy's avatar

Thanks guys. I just needed a bit of a reset, perspective, and some new ideas.

My wife and I have a one-year-old and a three-year-old, we both have more than full time jobs, and little man (who’s 1) doesn’t start preschool until next month, so it’s been too much to do for all involved, for a long time.

I tend to think the role of a partner is to help you be happy, so I have trouble just letting her stress. It’s a delicate balance between letting her know I care and giving her enough space to deal. Early on, I took a lot off her plate and she seems to just find new things to stress about, so I’m not sure it helped.

I understand that it is not really that simple, her stress motivates, it lets off steam, it’s different than mine. But in a world where everything needs to get done by either me or her, it’s tough to not turn it into a tug of war.

Thanks again for the time and thoughts. Always open to more ;)

anniereborn's avatar

For me, the role of a partner is to hold my hand through my life journey. Because becoming/being my true self is what is going to make me happy. If he is supportive, whatever that means for me at whatever time….that is what is important. And vice versa. It is no one’s job to assure I am happy.

funkdaddy's avatar

@anniereborn – I think I understand what you’re saying. I’d point out I did say the role is to “help you be happy”, not a sole responsibility.

It may be a fine difference, but to me if she popped up tomorrow and said she wanted to take her life in a totally new direction, my question wouldn’t be how I could support her, but if the change was going to make her happy. And that would be the motivation to support her. I want to see her fulfilled, able, and ultimately, “happy”. Maybe happy has the wrong connotation and “content” would be better because I don’t mean she needs to be smiling gleefully all the time, just feel at peace with the way things are. That’s my hope and goal for her, and everyone I love.

Not arguing, just discussing and trying to make I understand the details of what you said. Thanks again for the time.

LornaLove's avatar

I ask for help, my partner is a bit more reserved and I have to ‘sniff it out’. I think communication is key in a relationship and sharing life issues is all a part of the package. I’d feel I’d been short changed if I could not share my stresses with my partner and probably go back to the single life!

(Single life has all the fun bits where you don’t deal with other peoples stress!)

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: Your wife or SO and you are both very busy with a one year old and a three year old! At least one in diapers and both toddling around – very busy and stressful.

I’d say a big help in that case might be to offer to take the kids for a few hours so she can rest or shop or whatever suits her for an afternoon (or morning or whatever).

funkdaddy's avatar

@jca – I’m the primary caregiver for the kids. She has free time (with no kids) 4 days a week. Most weeks she wouldn’t have both kids by herself at any point.

I really did try to take as much as I could off her plate.

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: She doesn’t work? I ask because I’m envious if she doesn’t! :)

funkdaddy's avatar

We both work full time.

On a typical week, she works Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She usually leaves the house around 6:20 and gets back about 8pm. Sometimes she has an additional shift or training. Today for example she’s at a continuing education classes.

Monday through Friday my daughter (3) has preschool, I drop her off in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon. Monday through Thursday my son (1) goes to grandma’s for the afternoon, my wife spends time with him until about noon, drops him off and picks him up around 4. She can do whatever she wants during that time. We’re all usually together from about 6 until bed time at night.

Friday I have wonderboy all day, Saturday and Sunday I have both all day.

I get up with the kids in the morning, and usually work after they go to bed until midnight or so. Sometimes at the house, sometimes at the office. I’m “on” 7 days a week with my easiest day being Friday where I “just” have one child and work during his naps and usually stay up late Thursday to get everything prepped so it’s transparent to clients.

I’m not trying to ignore solutions, but I really don’t have more time to give.

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: Is that what your wife is stressed about – the two kids, no time?

funkdaddy's avatar

@jca – Honestly, if I had it figured out, or if she communicated a single thing that was the cause, we’d find a way to fix it.

I try not to analyze it too closely right now. I just try to see what’s in front of me at that moment, listen to her, and solve that. If I had to express it as a vague feeling, it would be that she wants to have a lot of certainty and security and that’s tougher with young kids. It manifests as other worries.

I can’t deliver certainty or security as a nice little package, I can only work on them when I see opportunities.

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: Maybe she has anxiety (anxiety in general, and then compounded by the circumstances)?

Odilia's avatar

I always am handling everything myself.
I am sheltering everyone from bad news or not nesessary moves.
When I was telling it in one forum I was nearly stressed my self down to
the point it wasn’t bearable anymore – I was told I have no rights to do this
because my husband have rights to know what is going on and share my
stress. But WHY in the world would I tell him bad news that he can not do anything about.
I rather to take my Xanax, calm down and figure out how can I deal with it.

With God’s help I was so far able to get out of the mess (business failure, financial difficulties
etc.) He is the one who does not have problem solving skills that I have. He calls me every time anything happened like ‘imagine I was almost got into accident…’ and I am at work!

Same like stupid people calling others out of country on vacation to tell them something had happened knowing there is no way they can come home in an hour and fix anything.
DEAL WITH IT and tell them later when it is fixed! Why spoil time for people?
I do not mean like a death in a family or something serious like that!

So I am dealing with things until I know for SURE I can’t do it on my own. But than – I know I will get no help anyway. So, so far I am dealing with everything on my own!
No need to clap your hands for me! LOL Thank you!

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