3 Ways Relationship Stress Can Bring You Down (And Ways To Turn Those Feelings Around)

53545388 - young woman getting bored while man using phone in the background.

Relationship stress can be both painful and confusing. Why does someone you love so deeply cause you to feel such an incredible range of emotions? From love to anger, happiness to despair, contentment to angst, security to anxiety… relationships often bring the full gamut of feelings prompting questions about longevity, stability and security.

Can someone who brings such anxiety actually be the one for you?

Perhaps, the answer is yes. But you’ll really only know if you face the feelings and translate the message. Stress and anxiety are often nothing more than messengers prompting you to ask harder questions about your love. Instead of judging your relationship stress, perhaps the better move is to dig in a little deeper to discover what’s really going on underneath it all.

Here are 3 common relationship stressors that when properly translated can bring you closer to your partner or show you that you may need some support to figure out where to go from here.

#1 You feel disconnected.

Disconnected is another way of saying you feel out of sync or out of rhythm with your partner. Is this stressor a pattern? Have you fallen into a habit of doing your own thing or feeling left out from your partner’s life and activities? In a healthy way, feeling disconnected is a sign that your relationship needs to be nurtured and brought back into focus.

Sometimes, couples get busy with life, kids, work and other such things and the feeling of disconnection is a warning sign that you need to take some time out for your partner. Like other living things, a healthy relationship requires regular attention.

You can begin by making time for your partner and reconnecting. This includes everything from talking to sex, because intimacy is the secret sauce that holds couples together.  Disconnection is a warning sign that you need some one-on-one time together. Once you make time, then you can go back to the busyness that fills up your life, feeling once again connected and whole.

The warning sign here is when you share your feelings with your partner and they are either ignored or brushed aside. Actions like this can cause deeper anxiety to fester. If not addressed, couples may find this growing sense of “life is better without their partner” to be a serious red flag and one that may deserve some support from a therapist or counselor.

#2 You feel misunderstood.

Everyone has times in a relationship when their partner doesn’t pick up all the right signals or “get” all of your jokes. The pain caused by this is often the belief that at another time, your partner “knew” you better than they seem to know you now. That sense of knowing is one of the signals of a truly intimate partnership, one where two people have shared deeply their values, beliefs and feelings.

That time invested in the partnership has created a belief of being truly understood by the other, and in many cases, the understanding that this precious “knowing” of each other is exclusive to this partnership. In other words, no one else on the planet knows you as your partner does. And this highly coveted “knowing” is priceless in human relationships.

Consequently, it can feel quite painful when your partner suddenly misunderstands you.

In healthy relationships, this kind of relationship stress is telling you that you need some intimate time with your partner to remember your intimate world. While this may involve sex, truly this kind of knowing is more about the emotional connection and friendship that you share.

When your relationship is nurtured, feelings of being misunderstood can be replaced somewhat easily and quickly with that “good old” feeling of being “known” to your partner. The key here is vulnerability and sharing your feelings of longing to reconnect. When those feelings are heard and responded to by your partner, the sense of alignment comes back even stronger.

However, if you share your vulnerable feelings and they are either ignored or neglected, this can cause people to pull away ever further. If this has happened, this too is a sign that you may want some support to help uncover what is causing a deeper divide between you before it’s too late.

#3 You feel worried.

Worry and anxiety are often misunderstood feelings and many people miss the hidden messages shared by worrisome feelings. The truth is that in many, many cases anxiety can be leveraged for the good of the relationship.

When you notice feelings of anxiety arising, ask yourself what is underneath them. Is it a real worry, or something you’re holding on to out of a deeper fear from an old relationship, your childhood or some other relationship stress you witnessed?

If it’s an old fear, that’s something to deal with so it doesn’t hijack your current situation. But if it’s related to the relationship you’re currently in, perhaps it’s trying to tell you something you need to deal with now.

The very positive message about anxious feelings is that they are telling you to pay attention; to listen and to act on your worries before they become true challenges to your relationship. Anxiety, when used for good, can actually act as a motivator to do more for your relationship.

Remember that you will feel anxious when the things you hold dear are somehow at risk. Instead of letting that anxiety fester, act on it. When you take action, you will feel more in control of your happiness and less vulnerable to those around you.

If you find that acting on your anxious feelings is a challenge, that too is a sign that getting some help may be of value to you. Just remember, that anxiety rarely goes away completely on its own. Often it takes some skill building to transform a habit of being anxious into something more meaningful for your life.

Relationship stress is a part of life. We all face times when we feel more or less connected to our partner. These common stressors become genuine challenges when they are either ignored or misinterpreted. By learning how to understand what your relationship stressors are really telling you, you have to listen to the messages. Then act on your understanding so you put your relationship back on track.


If you struggle to do this, some support may be in order. I do suggest you begin by downloading my free eBook, “Naming Your Feelings: A Guide To Understanding Your Emotions.”

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD