Tips for reducing stress in relationships depend on one thing alone – a recognition of the fact that men and women react differently to stress. For somebody who is single, that isn’t an issue, but as soon as you put a man and a woman in a relationship, there are bound to be problems. The winners in the battle of the sexes are the people who acknowledge these differences and work together to reduce stress.
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Women talk. The more they are stressed, the more they talk. This is entirely reasonable for a Venusian. They have a problem, they talk about it. That is what they do. Men need to realise that and get used to it even though they would prefer silence.
Men prefer silence because they are stressed and want to solve the problem. They retreat into their cave and want to be on their own while they think about the problem, and only come out of their cave when they have solved it.
Now this is great when the men and women are single, but when they are in a partnership all hell breaks loose. Let’s take a simple scenario with a couple who haven’t read ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.’ Fifteen-year-old daughter comes home, pregnant. The father is the seventy-seven year-old neighbour who is HIV positive. Of course, the woman wants to talk. She starts talking. The more stressed she is, the more she wants to talk. She needs some tips for reducing stress.
The man doesn’t want to talk, certainly doesn’t want to listen. He wants to solve the problem from the safety of his cave. He is pretty sure he wants to murder his daughter and her seducer, but he will want to work up to solving that problem by solving some little problems first. He will want to put on the TV and put an end to world poverty and hunger, a nice simple proposition in comparison to the real one confronting him. He doesn’t want to get to grips with his own problem just yet.
So the wife is trying to talk to her husband, and getting more and more stressed because he isn’t listening. He just seems to want to hide his head in the TV. This proves conclusively that he doesn’t love her, never did love her, and is almost certainly screwing that dumb little redhead from down the road. So the wife just gets more and more stressed, and that means she talks faster and louder than before, and the husband can’t stand listening to her because he has the small matter of world poverty to solve, and after that there is the small problem with his daughter. And thus the battle of the sexes is perpetuated.
Now let’s have the same fifteen-year-old pregnant daughter and the same seventy-seven year-old seducer, but now the troubled parents have read ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, so they know how to cope with stressful situations like these. The man knows that the woman needs to talk, the woman knows that the man needs to retreat to his cave. They both know that they can’t do both at the same time.
And this is where my tips for reducing stress come into play. Each has to recognise the other’s needs and react accordingly. The woman needs to allow her husband to retreat to his cave, the husband needs to listen to his wife. Probably the best way for them to do this is to negotiate. The wife says, ‘I need to talk to you, can we do it now or would you rather be in your cave first’. Then the man tells her and they arrange his cave time and her talking time. They have treated each other like adults with respect and understanding, and their relationship will not be affected by their problem.
Wasn’t that easy? Of course, the problem hasn’t gone away, but by recognising that their partner needs to react in one way whilst they react in the opposite way, they have reduced the stress levels to manageable proportions. And when the man comes out of his cave, there must be at least a small chance that he will not commit a triple murder.