What’s Stressing Out Your Marriage? Plus how not to let routine take over this school year!

by | Sep 5, 2019 | Resolving Conflict | 8 comments

What does “If you give a mouse a cookie” have to do with stress in marriage?

In today’s podcast, I tell you just that! I hope you all will listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well!

And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.

But first, here’s the podcast–and thanks to Get Your Marriage On app for sponsoring it this week!

Main Segment: Little things can add up to big stress!

Rebecca joins me today as we talk about how little things can add up to big stress. Sometimes when we’re upset at our spouse, the underlying issue isn’t actually the marriage. It’s other things in our lives that are difficult, and we take it out on our spouse. When you deal with those other things, suddenly marriage feels lighter.

Just a few examples:

  • Clutter: Does your house feel stressful because you can’t find anything? Do you have so much stuff it’s hard to clean?
  • Cooking: Do you run around at the last minute not knowing what to cook for dinner, leading to constant chaos and stress?
  • Kids: Do they whine about the food you make? Bicker? Refuse to sleep? That’s going to have an impact on your marriage, too!
  • Money: Did you buy a house before you could really afford it? Are you constantly going into credit card debt? Do you never seem to have enough money to make it through the month?

I talked about this in yesterday’s post about uncovering the real source of stress in your marriage, and I’d encourage you to check that out. Also, I mentioned on the podcast this post about how downsizing can be worth it. Sometimes the only way out of stress is to downsize your life!


Reader Question: How do we not let routines take over our marriage?

Our reader question today was a super short one, and that’s basically it–how do you make sure that routines from everyday life don’t squeeze out your marriage? I talked about 3 big things:

Reduce the number of commitments so that you have at least 3 nights to eat together as a family.

That’s a good rule of thumb–3 nights that you’re home without having to rush anywhere, where you can all be together. When kids are teens that can be more difficult because of their part-time work schedules, but when your family’s schedules are entirely up to you, keep at least 3 nights free. In the long run, it’s better for kids to have a good family life than it is to be in a ton of activities. And kids need down-time with siblings, too!

Get organized with your routines

The more organized you are with cleaning/cooking/kids, the more emotional energy and time you’ll both have for each other at the end of the day.

Prioritize time together.

Date nights don’t have to involve going out. You can set aside one night a week to play board games as a couple or do a puzzle, or anything not involving a screen.


Don’t Forget our Weekly Challenge!


Every week I like to issue my readers a marriage challenge–something that is super quick, cheap (if not free), and actionable. I love that you all read and listen, but for marriages to grow, we have to actually do something. So this week’s challenge is all about helping you identify your sources of stress.

Your Weekly TLHV Challenge

Identify sources of annoyance, frustration, anger, or stress over the last week–and brainstorm ways to reduce it!

On your own, jot down different things that have stressed you out in the past week, rating them from 1-5, with 1 being only a little bit stressful to 5 being really bad.

Now compare lists, and together, give each of these items a second score based on how easy they are to do something about, with 1 being hardest and 5 being easiest. Add up your scores, and choose the 1-2 items with the highest score. Brainstorm ways to address this together.

And remember to check out the Get Your Marriage On! app, that can help you set up the routine of a marriage meeting, and work through these questions. 

Daniel, who created the app, even added my 50 conversation starters to the game–and then added 20 new ones that I wrote over the weekend, that aren’t available on this site, as a bonus just to my readers. When you sign up, use the code TLHV to unlock these 70 conversation starters!

It’s an awesome app with super short but helpful video teachings, and then exercises for you to learn love languages, improve communication, improve sex, resolve conflict, and more. And the tools and games section is actually my favourite, with marriage meetings, games like Strip Battleship, conversation starters, and more!

Get it now here:

What do you think? What is the biggest external cause of stress in most marriages? Is it possible to have dinner together 3 nights a week? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


Recent Posts

Want to support our work? You can donate to support our work here:

Good Fruit Faith is an initiative of the Bosko nonprofit. Bosko will provide tax receipts for U.S. donations as the law allows.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Who Is the Focus of Marriage Teaching?

Who is the person who is most likely to read a marriage book and try to get help with their marriage? Someone whose marriage is a source of strain. If you're in a great marriage, you don't need to read a marriage book. You might read one if you're part of a small...


We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!


  1. Arwen

    Can i just say Sheila, i really, really appreciate your blog and podcasts because not only can i relate to it but i feel very, very comfortable passing it on to people around me because you’re so relatable and practical. Unlike other blogs i read a lot of their tips, advises and things they do are for privileged families, completely unrelatable to the average society who’s struggling to make it day by day. I’m especially surprised how relatable you are even with having a doctor for a husband. I think that speaks volumes to your character.

    Listening to your daughter i can relate in so many ways. I’m surrounded by people who still live in apartments, my older sister just bought a house this year at 33 years old. After lived in an apartment for 15 years! Her and her husband raised two kids in there. And they chose to live in an apartment for the same reasons you guys spoke about.

    I’m just waiting for you to come to North California someday so i can meet/attend one of your events. Because i have never loved a blog like this before. I have never met a blog i agree with 99% of the time and a blogger who shares soo many of the same views as me about life. Thank you for parting your wisdom to us, really, thank you, Sheila!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Aw, Arwen, I’ll send you an email and I’ll put you on my map and next time I’m in North Carolina we’ll have coffee! And stay safe from the Hurricane!

      • Arwen

        Sounds good! I know you meant North California, not Carolina. 😀

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, sorry! I didn’t read that right. 🙂

          • Madeline

            I for one would love for you to come to North Carolina 🙂

    • Eps

      Arwen, I agree. I love Sheila and her blog in a way I have never have other blogs (and I am pretty on board/in love with some of the food blogs I follow🙃). I feel like you are family even though we only meet briefly at one of your events (and felt this way before we met). Thanks Sheila!

    • Ben

      Oh my goodness, such good, good stuff lol, yeaah, so, so excited hearing these tips again that seems like we just don’t hear any more. Just looove your podcasts, they’re so, so fresh and exciting. Lol, just wanted to also say, just love you having your precious daughter on. Hehe, her laugh and energy, her young perspective especially for young couples is so neat, just makes me smile. Thank you soooo much for all your doing with all your work. God is so, so good, hehe, looove all your thoughts and wisdom and the freedom you give your daughter to share…it’s just so real. Thank you, we just need to hear these things. Thanks again, Ben.

  2. Nathan

    For various reasons that I won’t go into, my wife has to be at home and indoors most of the day. So when I get home, we often just take a walk around the neighborhood. We get outside, and the change of pace relaxes her.

    And I agree with you, Arwen. I love this blog, too. It’s mainly oriented around women, but there’s a lot of good stuff here. It helped me to mentor and monitor my buddy’s porn use (he struggles a bit, but is making real progress). Sheila and her daughter Rebecca (I can’t remember the other daughters name) write frankly and directly about things, with a genuine caring and compassion for everybody.

    Keep up the good work, all!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *