By: Prof. Ashley K. Randall (Arizona State University), Prof. Susan Boon (University of Calgary) and others; Images by Arizona State University's Design Team
Many couples may be facing a “make or break” time in their romantic relationship, and are searching for tools to manage increased stress, anxiety, and uncertainty.
“It’s important to set the playing field: Recognize that you and your partner are a team. Although you and your partner may be experiencing similar stressors, you also may be experiencing different, personally relevant, stressors.” - Ashley K. Randall, Associate professor at the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.
1. Verbally express your emotions in a calm and nondefensive manner
Stress reduces communication by roughly 40%, so it’s important to try to be concrete and detailed in communicating your stress to your partner.
2. Give time and space to listen to your partner’s stress without interrupting
Ask open-ended questions like, “how did you experience this?” and respond by summarizing your partner’s statements instead of interpreting. Once you are familiar and comfortable with communicating your stress, you and your partner can use what psychologists call "positive dyadic coping strategies".
3. Emotion-focused dyadic coping strategies
This includes empathizing (“I can understand why you are so upset.”), encouraging (“I know that you will be able to come out ahead”) and/or reframing (“Let’s try to see the positives”).
4. Problem-focused dyadic coping strategies
This involves giving practical advice, helping to gather additional information, and/or encouraging solutions.
5. Delegated dyadic coping strategies
This involves your partner doing something to relieve your stress, like playing with pets while you take a nap.
Learn more about other initiatives at ASU, here. ASU's website about other research studies.
Find out how you and your partner can contribute to research on couples and relationships.