Marital Stress and Depression Counseling Cary

If you were handed a questionnaire, asking you to rank how frequently you feel nagged, criticized or let down by your partner from “never” to “always,” how would you respond? How do you think your partner would respond?

A recently released study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that it doesn’t take intense conflict or an extramarital affair to make one or both partners vulnerable to depression; smaller daily stressors in your relationship, continued over time, also threaten your emotional well being and your long-term ability to experience pleasure.

The study on marital stress and depression looked at 116 couples over an 11 year time span and found that individuals who reported less marital stress experienced more prolonged experiences of joy than individuals who reported chronic stress. How does this translate to our daily lives?  When applied outside of the lab setting,  this could mean that positive experiences, such as fun dates or bouts of laughter, dissipate more quickly among stressed couples who could really benefit from more shared pleasure. When uplifting experiences are so short-lived, stress can more easily settle back in and fuel adverse marital interactions.

There are things you can do to avoid the negative cycle of chronic marital stress and depression. Revisit the opening question about how often you contribute criticism, nagging and disappointment to your relationship as well as how often you receive it. Express to your partner that you would like to reduce these types of negative interactions and make a daily effort to counteract bad habits.

Dr. Susan Orenstein suggests that you set aside 10-15 minutes each day for a simple but effective check-in exercise called the Daily Temperature Reading. When you both have each other’s undivided attention, start the conversation with a compliment or expressed appreciation and then take time to share new information and to bring up any concerns that need to be addressed to avoid greater conflict. Once those issues have been addressed, close the conversation by sharing your hopes and wishes for your relationship and future together. Incorporating this quick but productive and compassionate conversation into your routine addresses concerns before they grow to resentment within a safe space marked by gratitude. The Daily Temperature Reading is a great way to safeguard marital satisfaction and emotional well-being by stopping stressors at their source. For more information about this exercise, listen to the podcast found at this link.

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