Beating Stress – Family and Business Relationships

Beating Stress – Family and Business Relationships


Did you always dream that your children would take over the business you built? Did you always want to leave your daughter the fine china that Aunt Molly gave you? Have you considered what it will be like when you die and others are managing your household
and financial matters? Stress that is associated with who our family
is, how a close business partner acts, or realizing the people we are close to
may not be trustworthy are some of the most difficult stressors to deal with. There are several ways we manage our stress
in relationships or with people. In Bowen’s Family system theory,
he discusses “triangles”, which are how three people interact in relationships. In some ways three person relationships such
as two parents and a child or three family members who are business partners
are more stable than a two-person relationship. In other ways issues can arise. When there are three people, there is the
occasion when two are considered insiders and one is on the outside. However, in times of conflict, the outside
position can be desirable. Have you had an experience between one parent
and the child and the other parent is the outsider and not
involved in the conflict? Or in a family business when two people are
disagreeing and the other is on the outside? When a conflict arises between two people,
a third person can often provide assistance. A third person can help to calmly think through
the situation or reduce anxiety and find a way to take action. A third person who is not directly involved
in the conflict can provide an outsider’s perspective. How do we manage stress in relationships? When stress is encountered, people respond
in different ways, in different situations. There is an old saying that you can be part
of the solution or part of the problem. But it is not always as simple as that. In many situations, people simply cope the
best way they know how. Sometimes, people may choose to emotionally
distance or remove themselves from the situation. Another way a person might cope with stress
in a relationship is to focus time and attention on another
person or relationship. For example, if a couple is having marital issues they might focus attention on one of their
children rather than on their marriage. Sometimes one person in a couple relationship
will begin to focus his or her time elsewhere like on community activities or finding a
new circles of friends. The couple may even focus on building a new
house or starting a family instead of dealing with potential difficulties
in their relationship. This sort of re-focusing can last for a while
and help sustain their togetherness without addressing the core of the relationship
issue head on. Some outlets for focus are healthy and some are not. Another aspect in relationships is relating
between generations. Often family members do not realize that traits
are passed down through the generations. At times this is conscious teaching but other
times it is unconscious and unintentional. One example of this is ways of disciplining children
or showing love to family members. The history of our family shapes the values,
thoughts and experiences of each generation and how these values are passed down to the
next generation This includes how we deal with stress. Therefore, a good place to start, if there
are family stressors, would be to discuss family history with your
spouse, children or family business partner. For example, a husband might have had a very
loving mother but a distant father which influences how he interacts with his
wife and children. Another example is a family in previous generations may have dealt with business issues a certain way and the younger generation is taking a new approach. How should we manage stress in relationships? Bowen discusses differentiation of self, which is described as the ability to separate
one’s personal feelings and thoughts from that of the family. Being able to disentangle how you feel from how the family thinks you should feel is important
as we grow up. In stressful relationship situations, this may mean striving to calmly reflect on the disagreements or conversations after they occur. Consider your role in any misunderstanding.
Then choose a different response for the future. Now that is a healthy response! Starting to pay attention to our reactions
and patterns is the first step to addressing our stress in relationships.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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