6 Tips to Deal with Relationship Pressure
Many clients come to me for dating coaching or therapy to work out relationship difficulties such as feeling unsure of whether to stay in a relationship, sometimes due to feelings of uncertainty, or a sense of pressure in the relationship. While ambivalence is a normal part of any relationship, feelings of pressure are a little more complicated. Ambivalence means having strong opposing feelings - often feelings of wanting to stay together, and simultaneous feelings of wanting to leave. Confusing, I know…but also, normal. Sometimes a feeling of pressure accompanies the ambivalence - pressure to make a decision about staying in the relationship or ending it, pressure to get out of the relationship, or pressure to take the next step. Pressure is a feeling that takes some exploration and focused attention to understand. We will look at what kinds of pressure exist in a relationship, what we should do in relationship pressure situations, some of the different types and causes of pressure in relationships, and finally, some tips and suggestions for dealing with feelings of pressure.
What kinds of Pressures Exist in a Relationship?
- Pressure to make a decision about whether to stay or leave a relationship: Often, if one partner wants to take things to the next level and another doesn’t, both partners may be faced with pressure to make a decision about whether to stay in the relationship or move on.
- Pressure to spend more time together. One partner may have more time or availability and want to spend more time together than the other partner.
- Pressure from your partner to take the next step in your relationship: Even if both partners want the same thing in the relationship, each partner may have a different expectation or idea of timeline, which creates pressure on the relationship and the other partner.
- Pressure to have sex: Often, one partner has more sex drive than the other, and the person who is less sexually motivated or may have other complications that prevent sex may feel pressure to perform. Conversely, the person with a higher desire for sex may also feel pressure to “fix” this issue in the relationship or get their needs met.
If these types of pressure resonate, read on. If there is a type of pressure you experience in your relationship that’s not listed here, feel free to comment below and that can be incorporated into this post. When dealing with pressure, it’s important to ask yourself some definitive questions (listed below) that will help you know what kind of support to seek next.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Is this pressure internal or external? If internal, talk this through more with friends or a therapist to better understand what your needs are and why you are putting pressure on yourself. If external, talk to your partner using the steps outlined at the end of this post. If your partner still doesn’t seem to get it, you can try couples therapy.
- Is this pressure coming from my own ideas and beliefs or is my partner pressuring me to do something that I already stated I don’t want? If the pressure feels like a communication gap between you and your partner, again you could try couples counseling or therapy, but if it’s a pervasive problem of not being heard in the relationship, consider getting individual support such as coaching or therapy and talk through what gets in the way of you advocating for your needs.
When “pressure” is definitely a problem and you should seek immediate support:
- You feel unsafe
- Emotional or physical abuse is present
- You feel disrespected when you state your needs, and it feels like the only needs that matter in the relationship to your partner are your partner’s needs
- What you’ve expressed is important to you is disregarded
Tips for dealing with relationship pressure
- Communicate regularly and openly
- Learn good conflict resolution skills and tools
- Take time-outs when arguments are heated
- Provide reassurance
- Balance time together and time apart
- Respect each other’s needs and differences
Communicate Regularly and Openly
Find a way to keep the lines of communication open in your relationship. Often I recommend a weekly “Heart Talk,” or time set aside (30 minutes to one hour) for you and your partner to share what’s on your heart and mind and really listen to each other. A bedtime ritual of reflecting on your day together is another good way to keep the communication flowing.
Learn Good Conflict Resolution Skills and Tools
Conflicts are inevitable in relationships, and can get heated fast when one or both partners are feeling pressure. The most important thing when dealing with conflict is to know how to resolve conflicts effectively with listening and respect, and assertive, non-violent communication. There are plenty of books like “Non-Violent Communication,” “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High,” or “Difficult Conversations” and couples therapy can also provide great skills and tools for conflict resolution.
Take Time-Outs When Arguments are Heated
A great tool for heated conversations is to say “I’m feeling (x/angry/overwhelmed), I need some time to get my head straight so I don’t say things I don’t mean. Can we come back to this in ___ minutes?” This is different from simply leaving a conversation because the words provide insight into how you are feeling, reassurance that you want to work it out, and a set time limit for how long you will need and when you will return to it. This shows your partner that you care and are invested in working things out, even though you are upset.
Often pressure stems from an underlying feeling of imbalance or needs not being understood or met. It’s important to let each other know that you want to be there for each other and understand each other.
Balance Time Together and Time Apart:
Each couple’s needs for this may be different (just as each individual in the couple may have different needs). Sit down together and discuss what would feel healthy and supportive for each of you and for you as a couple when it comes to this balance.
Respect Each Other’s Needs and Differences:
Another person’s way of receiving love and feeling respected may be different than yours. Accept that they may have different needs from you and may offer you different forms of support than you expect. Talk through these differences to see where you can meet in the middle, and see if you can accept the places where you can’t.
The bottom line is that pressure, like any uncomfortable feeling, may be a sign that you have some unmet or misunderstood needs. If, after using these tips, much solo reflection, and talking to friends, the pressure is still there, it may be useful to talk to a professional couples therapist or relationship counselor to help sort out what the pressure is telling you.
Read more relationship tips on our blog or Instagram, and feel free to reach out to us at Lovewell for dating coaching, certified wellness coaching, relationship coaching, couples counseling, or individual therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. What types of issues can couples therapy address?
A. In addition to helping couples handle feelings of pressure in a relationship, couples therapy can also help couples struggling with financial stress, parenting concerns, or drug and alcohol abuse. By providing an open environment for discussion and problem-solving, couples therapy can help partners express their feelings safely and respectfully while developing skills to improve their relationship.
Q. What types of topics are discussed in marriage counseling?
A. Marriage counselors use various techniques, such as communication skills, conflict resolution strategies, and problem-solving skills, to help couples identify and resolve issues within their marriage. By discussing these topics openly and honestly with the guidance of a professional counselor, couples can learn how to understand each other’s needs better and build stronger relationships.