The Relationship Stress Test
The Relationship Stress Test
Philip Van Munching (Author) gives expert video advice on: What are the various levels of relationship stress? and more...
What are the various levels of relationship stress?
When it comes to relationships, stress basically comes in four sizes or four levels. Level one stress is basically no stress, and almost no one I've ever met has that level of stress in their relationship. Level two stress is the mild kind. It's when boundaries are getting crossed here and there, things are happening, but people tend to work it out and get along. Level three stress is moderate. That's when it's a little more serious and there's some questioning of whether things can be worked out and it's at this point that therapists tend to see people on their couches. Level four stress is nuclear warfare. We've all known couples who do nothing but fight and that's when nobody's needs are getting met. There's this feeling that if we can just shout at each other loud enough we can get back to that positive, idealized transference phase where the other person was perfect. However, we know that that's not possible and so those couples are locked in this endless battle for something that will never happen.
What are the features of "level-one relationship stress"?
Level-one features of stress are really simple. Both sides love each other. Everything's great. That's basically it. There's just about no stress in a level one relationship. I like to refer to level one as Fantasyland, because I have yet to meet anybody who's constantly in a level-one relationship without the benefit of massive amounts of drugs.
What are the features of "level-two relationship stress"?
A "level-two relationship" can basically be summed up in one word, annoyance. Maybe two words, mild annoyance. There are certain things that happen, probably chronically, that bug each partner. But they are not enough to really cause any serious or lasting trouble.
What factors contribute to level-two relationship stress?
Level-two stress comes about, basically, through daily life. We all get annoyed, and we all go home to our partner and "share the wealth", and this is the kind of stuff that leads to the little petty problems. The good news is they really are petty problems, and over time, we just recognize that the little chronic things just aren't important enough for us to really worry about our relationship.
What are the features of "level-three relationship stress"?
In a level-three relationship, what's happening is the balance between good and bad feelings has shifted to the negative. Now you have more bad than good. That's happening for a number of reasons. The conflict is escalating all the time over small things, those things that lead to your level-two relationship now happen much more frequently. Boundaries are being crossed in ways they never were before. And really, communication is broken down, now you're not talking to each other in ways that you need to to. Maybe you're now communicating with other people, and that can include having affairs. These are the things that lead to a level-three relationship.
What factors contribute to level-three relationship stress?
In a level-three relationship, those things from your past that you've never really dealt with often are coming into play. For example: A kid grew up in a household where he was told all the time how stupid he was, and he's grown up to internalize that feeling and think, "I must be inadequate in some way." He won't consciously say that but, unconsciously, any thing that makes him feel stupid will set him off. In a level-three relationship, a spouse might be saying, not meaning it, "How could you be so stupid?" Suddenly her husband is Mount Vesuvius. This happens because she's now touching on psychological hot spots that have probably never been broached before in the relationship.
What are the features of "level-four relationship stress"?
The key feature in a level four relationship is the need to wear Kevlar at all times. This is where your just about to kill eachother at any given moment and theres almost no memory of the good feelings. This is when you become so locked into 'my partner better change' that you can no longer see any good in the relationship. This is the level where you gotta get yourself to a therapist and fast.