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How External Stress can Secretly Damage Your Marriage

stress Jun 23, 2024

Stress from outside the relationship can really mess things up between partners. When one or both people are dealing with a lot of stress, it can make it harder for them to talk things out, feel close, and handle arguments well.

Sometimes we don't place enough importance on the stress our spouse is going through. Even good stress like a pregnancy or vacation can impact how we interact with each other.

The following test is a common one, developed by researchers Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe to help people measure stress in their lives and determine whether that stress might put them at risk for illness.

Take this quiz with your partner to see how you score.

Circle those events you have experienced in the past year. Then total the number of points assigned to those items you’ve circled.

100 - Death of a spouse
73 - Divorce
65 - Marital separation
63 - Imprisonment
63 - Death of a close family member
53 - Major personal injury or illness
50 - Getting married
47 - Dismissal from work
45 - Marital reconciliation
45 - Retirement
44 - Major change in health of family member
40 - Pregnancy
39 - Sexual difficulties
39 - Gain of new family member
(birth, adoption, elderly relative moving in)
39 - Major business readjustment (merger, reorganization, bankruptcy)
38 - Major change in financial state
37 - Death of a close friend
36 - Change to a different line of work
35 - Change in number of arguments with spouse
32 - Major mortgage
30 - Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
29 - Major change in responsibilities at work
29 - Son or daughter leaving home
29 - Trouble with in-laws
28 - Outstanding personal achievement
26 - Spouse begins or stops work outside home
26 - Beginning or ending formal schooling
25 - Change in living conditions
24 - Revision of personal habits
23 - Trouble with boss
20 - Major change in work hours or conditions
20 - Change in residence
20 - Change in schools
19 - Major change in recreational activities
19 - Major change in church activities
18 - Major change in social activities
17 - Minor mortgage or loan
16 - Major change in sleeping habits
15 - Major change in number of family get-togethers
15 - Major change in eating habits
13 - Vacation
12 - Christmas season
11 - Minor violation of the law (traffic ticket, etc.)

<150 low risk
150–300 medium risk
>300 high risk of developing stress related illness


Learn new communication skills you can immediately apply in your marriage and some harder skills (with practice) that will transform your marriage.