Couple Communicating“Sean?”
“Yeah?”
“Just a little reminder that we’re traveling today.”
“Yeah. So?”
“Just asking you to remember that everything is going to be OK and, well, to be nice.”
Confession time: I’m not the most laidback traveler. I can get a bit, umm…let’s say, “snippy”.
When traveling, my OCD kicks into gear. I’m constantly checking if zippers are closed, passports are in the right pocket, that money is stowed away, and that we’re on schedule.
And that’s just for me!
Combine that with doing the same thing for my wife and each of my 3 kids.
Needless to say, because of the increased level of stress during travel, I’m not always the most fun person to be around, especially for my wife.
Times of Change Can Cause Stress
It’s been said that change is the one constant in the universe. Most of us know this. We know that life doesn’t stay the same day after day.
Yet, in times of change, we often let stress get the better of us and it can have a negative effect on our relationship.
Some common stressful situations include:

  • Traveling or on Vacation – ironic as it is, traveling or being on vacation can increase stress. It’s usually caused by simply being in someplace new or outside of your comfort zone.
  • Moving to a New Home – leaving your old house and moving to a new house, as exciting as it is, can cause stress. There’s all of the packing up, moving, and settling into a new home that creates quite a change for most families.
  • Making a Large Purchase – this could include buying a new house, a new car, or maybe even a big toy like an ATV or boat. Stress here is usually associated with spending a large chunk of cash.
  • Losing a Job – this one is never fun. Losing your main source of income makes you instantly wonder how you’re going to pay for food and shelter. This causes anxiety big-time.
  • Starting a New Job or Business – getting in the groove of a new job or business can take some time and requires some dedicated attention. Putting on your best show at work is taxing. Sometimes, this means that at the end of the day, your spouse gets your “emotional leftovers”.

These are just a few examples of times of change that often increase stress and test your relationship.
How to Bypass Stress and Get Fun Again
Having established that times of change causes stress, we need to focus on the good stuff – the solution!
Before getting to some specific techniques, the overarching theme here is to keep your relationship as happy as possible. Ideally, you’re putting yourself in check and not passing on any of your stress to your spouse.
With that in mind, here are some “best practices” for making sure you’re treating your husband or wife well during transition.
Slow Down & Breathe – in times of stress, our heart rate goes up, muscles tense, and so forth. Because this is a very physical reaction, it can be countered with a physical reaction. First, slow down. Hit the pause button even. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Focus on relaxing your body and centering yourself.
Be Grateful – Gratitude is one of those attributes that when practiced always puts you in a very good place. Whether you’re traveling, starting a new job, or even losing a job, there are always things you can be grateful for. As a very powerful positive emotion, gratitude will turn your attention to your spouse and the great person that he or she is.
Be Aware & Choose to Be Nice – this is the biggest help to maintaining harmony in your relationship in times of change. First, acknowledge in yourself that you’re experiencing higher levels of stress. Then, side-step it. Simply choose to ignore any negative emotions you might be tempted to act on. Finally, actively choose to treat your spouse in a nice, positive way.
Times of change can and should be exciting. They should push you. They should make you grow.
Getting to experience them together with your loved one makes it all the more better.
The key to making it fun is to keep the right attitude and treasure your spouse as they join you on the adventure!

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