Sunday, November 26, 2017

Separations During Stressful Periods to Save Relationships

During a break at work, I was speaking with one of my colleagues about his kid and girlfriend.  He’s a younger guy, in his early 20s, and he and his girlfriend had an unplanned pregnancy about two years ago.  This would mean that the whole life change took place when he was in his late teens or early 20s.

Anyway, after the surprise pregnancy came up, his girlfriend moved out to live with her parents.  She has remained there for about two years, and it was just recently decided that she would be moving back in with him.  Everything sounds like it’s pretty stable, in that they’re getting along well and genuinely want to live together again.

After hearing the whole story, it made me wonder: Would it be beneficial to the long-term sustainability of relationships if couples separated during stressful periods, eventually getting back together after the stressful period has passed?

We all know that stress breeds more stress, oftentimes producing substantial conflict in relationships (of any kind).  This is especially true with people living together and even more so with couples.  However, what stands out to me regarding romantic relationships is the fact that people break up; that is, friendships seem more likely to survive stressful periods, and family relationships (brother-sister, mother-son, etc.) survive even more, whereas couples seem to break up (and stay broken up) a lot easier.

Now, the above is all opinion/anecdotal; I haven’t looked at or seen studies to support what I think I’ve seen.  Actually, there might be studies that disprove this thought, so I might be way off base here.  In any case, thinking of my colleague’s story and leaning on intuition, it feels like temporary separations really could help romantic relationships.  This is especially true for young couples since they’re less capable (some would say not mature enough) to make the best long-term decisions.  For one, you’re not around each other non-stop, so you don’t have the opportunity to take stress out on each other all of the time.  Secondly, in the case of pregnancy and assuming the option is available, moving back in with family (especially parents): 1. provides valuable support and experience; 2. might actually strengthen family relationships; and 3. leverages relationships that are more likely to survive stressful periods.  And thirdly, by being apart, you might cherish and enjoy your time together more than you otherwise would have.

So, I wonder if this is a good way to combat stressful circumstances in relationships, such as unplanned (or even planned) pregnancies, and especially pregnancies at a young age.  This could even apply for career changes, a death in the family, or other life-changing events.  If there haven’t been studies on this, my intuition tells me that it might be worth investigating.  You never know!

Anyway, just something I came across and was thinking about.  Thought I’d share!  Let me know what you think!

And if for whatever reason I’m way off here and the idea is a bad one, you know what to do: Blame it on fast foods!

- Steve