Health Advocate Blog

Addressing stress in relationships

Relationship stress can happen frequently and often has multiple causes. The most common reasons couples may experience stress in their relationship include lack of communication, not enough quality time together, and conflicting priorities. It is important to know why relationships begin to feel stressful so you can start to fix the problems.


Communication lies at the heart of every relationship, and when communication breaks down or becomes strained, it can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and heightened stress levels. When couples talk openly and respectfully to each other, they can solve problems in a constructive way, often stopping fights before they happen.

Helpful tips to improve communication include:

  • Make sure you’re truly paying attention to your partner by practicing active listening
  • Express thoughts and feelings openly and honestly, but try to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements to avoid placing blame
  • Being receptive to your partner’s perspective and recognize that you may have differing opinions

Quality time

Quality time in a relationship is crucial for maintaining a strong connection and deepening emotional bonds between partners. Quality time is not about the quantity of time spent but the quality of the interactions.

Next time you and your partner are together, focus on the quality of interactions by:

  • Planning a no-phone dinner to avoid distractions and focus solely on your partner
  • Rather than flopping on the couch and stream your favorite show, enjoy downtime together by simply talking to one another
  • Doing something fun together that you both enjoy–maybe even revisit a place you frequented while you were dating

Conflicting priorities

Conflicting priorities can create tension in relationships as you each juggle work, family obligations, personal interests, and relationship needs. By respecting each other’s priorities, couples can reduce stress and strengthen their bond.

To balance these competing demands, you and your partner can practice:

  • Time management to make sure you can attend to your priorities while still having opportunities to work as a pair on mutual responsibilities
  • Setting boundaries in other areas of your life to ensure you can focus on your relationship (when feasible)
  • Supporting each other’s goals and interests—and sometimes even participating in each other’s!

Seeking professional help can provide valuable support and guidance for managing stress and improving your relationship. Counseling doesn’t have to be limited to more serious issues, or when couples are making a last-ditch effort to save their relationship. It could be simply talking to a counselor to get strategies to deal with outside problems and make your relationship stronger.