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Donít Let Stress Steal Your Heart Away
Grow your relationship by leaving the stress behind.

By John Dalog
Don't let stress ruin your marriage, it's time to unclinch your fist and find happiness.

A healthy, loving relationship is much like growing a plant. To be happy and stress free you need to accept responsibility and go green. Green isnít only about energy consciousness and protecting the environment, green is about healthy relationships that grow together, not apart.

Tend to your relationship like a gardener: Water, fertilize occasionally, provide some sun and repot when the roots expand and donít have enough soil. If your plant isnít doing well, move it to another window. Donít hover over your plant or you will kill it with too much attention. Most plants suffer from over-watering!

Many people fall out of love with one another because they are stressed and unhappy with themselves. Stress withers the inner identity and saps vitality. Here is an excerpt from a stress-management session with one of my clients:

"As soon as my seventeen-year-old daughter goes off to college next year, I am out of this marriage. I am so unhappy with him. We have nothing in common anymore."

I ask: "Do you ever feel like you donít know who you are anymore deep inside before you became a wife and mother, as though you lost the hidden girl within?"

She answers, "Yes, how did you know?"

I ask, "Is it possible that you have fallen out of love with yourself and not with him? Could he be mirroring your getting older? As I recall, your mother died a couple of years ago. Are you grieving quietly, maybe suppressing your sadness?"

She replies, "PerhapsÖ"

I then follow up and suggest, "Before you leave your marriage, consider that things might be the same with someone else unless you reclaim your true identity. Donít abandon yourself."

Itís time to prune the harsh words and unrealistic demands. Pay attention to your phrases: "I have to rush," "Iím crazy busy" and "I canít remember what it feels like to get a good nightís sleep." We are all blown about in many different directions, battered into exhaustion. However, the stressful endless to-do list must end.

If this all sounds familiar most likely you are addicted to stress, which means that you adhere to the pattern of the over-doer both at home and at work. You view all your relationships in terms of accomplishments. You feel uncomfortable with quiet time, guilty about taking time for yourself. Although stress will always land on your doorstep, you donít have to constantly open the door. Research shows that stress overload which becomes chronic is damaging to mind and body. "Stress junkies" somehow need to stir things up to create drama when things are going smoothly. Learn how to reconnect with yourself.

Open up. Get into your own natural rhythm by becoming a healthy narcissist. This means making time and space for yourself, eating right and exercising. Nature depends on a delicate balance. When you are natural, you are in rhythm with other people. Give yourself what you need and want. Fortify that inner identity. You will be better able to manage stress and your relationship with yourself will improve immediately. Then you will no longer feel wed-locked. Self-improvement means home improvement.

Donít let stress steal your heart away and rob you of good energy, health, happiness and intimacy. Take back your power. When you are truly powerful, you donít need to control anyone, or have your spouse read your mind. You come from a loving place. May you bloom where you are planted.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life", "Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout" and "Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul," a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City, produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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