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How microstress impacts your marriage, and what to do about it

Updated: Sep 5, 2023


I recently came across The Hidden Toll of Microstress in the Harvard Business Review. I encourage you to read the full article.


What stood out to me the most was the number of microstresses relatable to marriage and its toll on your mind and body.


I often dismiss microstresses myself, believing that strong people should be able to shrug them off, but it's not that simple. As stated in the article:


"When your body budget is continually burdened, momentary stressors pile up, even the kind that you'd normally bounce back from quickly. It's like children jumping on a bed, the bed might withstand 10 kids bouncing at the same time, but the 11th one snaps the bed frame."


Where is all this microstress that we hardly notice coming from? Their research identified 14 sources. They divided them into three categories:

  • Microstresses that drain your capacity to get things done.

  • Microstresses that deplete your emotional reserves.

  • Microstresses that challenge your identity.

Of the 14 sources, I see half that relates to the environment and interactions that occur in a marriage:

  • Managing and feeling responsible for the success and well-being of others

  • Confrontational conversations

  • Lack of trust in your network

  • Pressure to pursue goals out of sync with your personal values

  • Attacks on your sense of self-confidence, worth, or control

  • Draining or otherwise negative interactions with family or friends

  • Surges in responsibilities at work or home

Remember that a negative interaction is up to five times more impactful than a positive one.


I won't remember the 14 identified sources of microstress. Still, I will remember that microstress takes a compounding toll on our happiness and that I need to be more aware of them to better manage my emotions.


The suggestions for managing microstress stated in the article are practical. Here are a handful of examples from the article:

  • Say no to small asks

  • Reduce how frequently technology interrupts your day

  • Microstress you cause on others will likely boomerang back to you

I recommend reading the full article, The Hidden Toll of Microstress, in the Harvard Business Review.

 

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