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Is Stress Hurting Your Relationship? What Can You Do About It?

While raising a child with special needs, when it comes to keeping your relationship together and being in love, one of the most important insights is to recognize how stressful it is and how the stress can erode the best of relationships.
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John Gray with Anat Baniel: Tip 8 - Men and Women Manage Stress Differently

This is the 8th tip from my interview series with John Gray: 20 Suggestions on Parenting a Child With Special Needs. (You can read our previous tips here.)

While raising a child with special needs (and actually any child), when it comes to keeping your relationship together and being in love, one of the most important insights is to recognize how stressful it is and how the stress can erode the best of relationships.

It's extremely stressful for everyone -- you're not alone. So, how do you lower your stress? Men and women manage stress differently, so different activities will help you each cope with stress more effectively.

Reducing Her Stress Levels
What helps to lower her stress levels is the hormone oxytocin. When a woman gives to her child and others, it may fill her heart and feel very satisfying. However, at a certain point, this becomes a source of stress, because she runs out of sufficient levels of this hormone oxytocin.

Some of the activities that will help women build up their oxytocin levels and lower their stress are talking, sharing and getting time away to do nurturing things, even things that may sound silly like getting your hair or nails done, going shopping, going for walks in nature or having lunch your girlfriends.

Women need to make sure they get the support and the help they need from those willing and able to give it to them. These activities have been proven to be super oxytocin-producers. Then, of course, going out occasionally on romantic dates with their partner and anticipating these dates are big oxytocin producers and essential for good adult relationships.

Men often don't realize how significant these activities are to women, but if made aware of it, most men would be thrilled to provide it. And it will make them feel more successful, which is a stress reliever for men.

Reducing His Stress Levels
Sufficient levels of testosterone may help him cope with stress. His daily demands and activities use up large amounts of testosterone. Men actually run out of energy much faster than women do. Men need to make many times more testosterone than women.

To rebuild the testosterone levels, he needs his down time -- he just needs to zone out and have "cave" time to forget his problems. Today, men generally veg out in front of a football game or watch the news, which have very profound effects on helping him to manage stress.

Women often don't understand that he is refueling himself through this process, which is a very foreign process to them. They may think that he doesn't care, he doesn't want to be there or that he's not willing to support them -- which is not the case. It's vital that women recognize that testosterone is the most important hormone for men's energy levels, happiness and well-being.

When a woman runs out of oxytocin and needs to feel supported, and he's building his testosterone, she tends to feel alone. A woman can combat this feeling by making sure that she schedules "me" time where she's feeling support from others, while he's actually getting ready to jump in to connect with her, and support her in taking care of their child and attending to their relationship.

WATCH: Men and Women Manage Stress Differently
Tip #8 From John Gray

Tip 9 - Understanding and Providing for His and Her Special Needs
As a parent of a child with special needs, it's important to realize your relationship has special needs as well. The greatest gift you can give each other and your children is to be happy and fulfilled. For this to happen you both need to manage stress effectively. A fantastic way to do this, in addition to what we've shared in the tip above, is to know what each other's needs are and to help provide for them the best that you can.

What Women Need
Men, what a woman needs most is to feel your caring and your concern, that you are hearing her, and that she's not alone. The messages and experience that you want to give her are caring, concern, support, and help; that you're her backup system. When she feels that the backup is there and she can reach out at any time for your support, this helps her to rebuild her oxytocin levels and be so much happier.

What Men Need
Women, to help men rebuild their testosterone, they need to feel valued and appreciated. Whenever you have a chance to say something like: Good Idea! or I'm so glad you're here! or You're my hero! Thank goodness you arrived, don't miss the opportunity. This helps him to feel successful.

So, a man's special need is giving him messages whenever she can that he is successful and he's helpful. For a woman, her special need is to feel that she is supported and that he's there to help her. In this way, both sides--the male and the female--get nurtured. This can sustain a loving relationship where children then feel safe and gets their needs met more fully because their parents are fulfilled.

WATCH: Your Relationship Has Special Needs
Tip #9 From John Gray

We'd love to hear how these tips work for you! Please share your experiences with us.

Watch for our next video blog Tip #10 With John Gray: When Your Child Starts Acting Out

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