No matter how much you love someone, sharing a home can be a source of joy, and it can also drive you a little crazy. Romance doesn’t teach you how to deal with stress at home, especially when the person you live with seems to have been raised on another planet.
It’s not a matter of Venus vs. Mars. If your partner comes from some universe where people leave wet towels on the floor and squeeze the toothpaste wrong, you need intergalactic diplomacy. Otherwise, stress bubbles up when we become irritated over trivia, and can overflow in a major feud.
Step One: Lighten Up. You can let go of a lot of stress at home when you accept that lifestyles have no right and wrong. Many of us had “correct and incorrect” ways to do things drilled into us growing up. And we can be dumbfounded when other people have a different view, or worse, don’t even care.
If you are trying to keep quiet, but your brain yells, “Don’t they know you never…” or “you always…”, it may just be your upbringing, casting blame where none exists. Instead, lighten up and consider your partner’s way of thinking as a chance to broaden your viewpoint. You partner may be smarter than you think.
Step Two: Focus on the good stuff, and let the rest slide. People build families based on love and commitment. We especially need to treasure our partners and our families when day to day stress makes us feel like it’s all coming apart. Joy in little things, gratitude, hugs, and shared laughter all work to strengthen our commitment, and allow trivial irritations to fall away. Plus, happier kids do more chores.
When you make fun and affection a real priority in your home, the good feelings stay with you, and allow you to feel more secure wherever you are. As in the rest of life, what we focus on expands in our thinking. Let your focus be on your blessings, and allow them to grow.
Step Three: Plan ahead to eliminate the stress of rushing. If your whole family always seems to be running around at the last minute to catch a school bus or get to work, make a decision to get yourself organized. You are the person in charge of your schedule, after all. And you can wipe out a lot of stress at home by simply rearranging your time so you move calmly through your day.
Step Four: Allow for personal comfort styles. We all seem to be hardwired for the kind of environment where we are most comfortable. Some people need a cozy, country sort of home, with lots of plush upholstery and memorabilia around them. Others can only relax in rooms that are sleek and uncluttered. Your own comfort style could be anywhere in between.
While we live with other people, we need to accept that their comfort style is every bit as legitimate as our own, even if it’s far from our favorite. Let everyone be a part of creating the spaces you share. Then, if your comfort styles are miles apart, allow each person to have some unique space, which will help each of you refresh and recharge.
Step Five: Respect your partner’s and your family’s needs. As hard as it is to accept sometimes, your home is not all about you. If your spouse doesn’t seem to be listening when he comes home from work, his mind may still be full of work priorities. Allow every person in your family to decompress in their own way. If you grant them their own time, they won’t feel abandoned when you take time for yourself.
Step Six: Check your ego at the door. There is an old story about movie legend Jimmy Stewart. When his wife was asked what it was like to live with such a great star, she replied that he was “not a star at home.”
If your ego gets in the way of getting along, let go of your need to control and let your family be who they are.
Step Seven: Go to a pro if you need to. If anyone in your home has severe behavioral problems, then accept that the solution is beyond what you can do on your own. Some stressors need professional help, and will never be helped by your worry alone. In the end you will feel more peace knowing you sought help.
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