Putting stress on relationships

In troubled times, couples can be pushed apart or drawn together. I sit firmly in the former category, and my “troubled times” are midterms. Be it Arts, Business, Science or Music, midterms are brutal. Some people can handle the pressure and others just cannot. I find that in times of overloaded stress, relationships tend to suffer.

Exhibit A: Myself. When midterm season rolls around I get stressed out very quickly. I become obsessed with studying (or at least pretending to) and I can’t even take a five-minute break to check my Farmville account without feeling guilty.

Enter my boyfriend, Derek. Now Derek and I have been dating for about three years, so I suppose he understands my quirks, but sometimes I don’t know why he wants to hang out with me when I can’t even hold a five-minute conversation without being plagued by tension.

Upon further investigation I discovered one reason he tolerates me is because “It’s only two weeks, and then it’s over.” I become more emotional when I feel pressured, but Derek becomes more methodical as he is “constantly planning and slotting in time to study” (which means he’s slotting in time for his girlfriend).

Out of the two of us, it’s pretty clear who gets more stressed out and we both think it’s more about who we are as people rather than what we are actually stressing about. When midterms are over, I am still the emotional one and he is still the pragmatic one.

I know we are not the only couple that lets midterms affect our relationship, so I decided to see how stress affected the relationship of another couple. Cameron and Danielle, who preferred not to disclose their last names, have been dating for about one year and I hypothesized that people who have been dating a shorter period of time would be more hesitant to show their stress level to their partner.

Exhibit B: Dating one year. It seems that no matter how long you’ve been dating, the other person can sense your tension (even if the strain on the relationship is minimal). In this case, it wasn’t how they actually treated each other that differed, but rather the amount of time they spent together.

“We have less time to see each other which doesn’t really help the stress,” Cameron said. I found the same thing happened in my relationship as well and when we actually had time to see each other we were very tense. When Danielle and Cameron did see each other they noticed differences in the way each other acted. He got “more distracted” whereas she got “more emotional,” said Danielle.

So it seems to me that the stress of midterms affects relationships in different ways, but it is evident that it does affect the majority of relationships. It changes how couples treat each other, mostly in a negative way, and the time consuming study period of midterms makes it difficult to find time to see each other.

Thank god it’s only a few weeks of each semester.

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