Melody is a volunteer for the Center for Disease and Control Prevention. She enjoys sharing her personal experience with others.
How Bed Bugs Strain Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
How Bed Bugs Damage Relationships
Bed bug stress affects how men and women provide support to partners. Bed bugs cause high levels of stress and anxiety, and bed bugs are on the rise. With the bed bug population in an ever-growing state, it leaves us with the possibility of real social issues revolved around how bed bugs damage romantic relationships.
Someone who has experienced a bed bug infestation might think others can't understand. As if, the depth of bed bug related stress can not be fathomed by those who haven't experienced bed bugs. The problem is so complex, and to often brushed under the rug. Leaving people feeling alone.
The relationship disturbance reaches deep within a person. And when your under stress, it's more difficult to provide support to another who is experiencing stress. When your sharing a bed, and have bed bugs, the stress will be felt by both partners.
5 Steps to Reduce Bed Bug Related Relationship Conflict
Bed bugs have no chance at disrupting a marriage when a couple is on the same page. When creating an integrated bed bug plan make sure these issues are addressed. A husband and wife are stronger together than when divided.
- The couple must sit down and be willing to admit there is a problem.
- Partners must share the workload equally, and budget for extermination.
- Both partners must communicate with the other without getting defensive.
- The couple must support each other and learn to cope with the stress and anxiety created by bed bugs.
- Focus on the task at hand, avoid getting into the what if's.
With both members in the relationship participating, it really helped couples stand together and become stronger as a team. If a couple can do these four things on a consistent basis, then they become a united front against bed bugs. Once two partners become a mean, lean bed bug fighting machine, they can leave fear of bed bugs behind them, and steam roll ahead.
Guy Bodenmann, Prof. Dr. and Ashley K. Randall, SNP Mentor, experts in their field tells us, "External stressors are those that originate outside the relationship, such as stress from school, work, family members (apart from one’s romantic partner), or social tensions with others outside the relationship (e.g., friends and extended family)".
Bed bugs are an external stressor that causes internals stress. This isn't just any level of stress, according to the experts it is a major stressor, which is known to create a cycle within relationships which is difficult to break, you may even need to seek professional assistance.
When two people are fighting a bed bug battle, sometimes they grow frustrated. Two people can begin to battle each other, and lose sight of the real enemy. Bed bugs challenge our minds more than they challenge our physical self.
The break down begins with a lack of communication. When two people are not fully communicating, they are not able to solve problems effectively. Bed bugs can drag on and on and apply stress to even the best communicators.
In those cases, the ideal result is that the couple is strong and patient in finding the solution. However, when couples do not communicate effectively, the result can be a chasm that causes each partner to move in a different direction.
This then snowballs. The couple may find that they are on different pages. Each moving in a different direction.This can cause the feeling of being disconnected. At this point, bed bugs have driven a wedge between the partners.
The Impact from the Cost of Bed Bug Extermination
Bed bugs lead to fundamental relationship issues, and the financial cost is one of the stressors. It's not uncommon knowledge that money is one of the top reasons that couples fight. These pests breakdown relationships while draining your blood and your wallet.
If you have bed bugs, it's best to get an exterminator, I don't recommend you try to exterminate them on your own. Home Advisor reports that the average cost of bed bug extermination is between $300 - $5,000, with the average person spending about $1,750. Your estimate will depend on the severity and depth of the infestation and the size of your home.
The thought of having to drop that kind of cash out of the blue would stress anyone out. Hopefully, there are already open lines of communication in the relationship. Regular conversations about money in and money out, helps relieve stress. Do not have a budget? Do both partners follow it? If you don't, that alone will cause a great deal of friction. If you have an infestation, it's time to add the cost of extermination in right away, and develop a plan together.
In many cases, bed bug stress is the fuel that lights the fire and cause disharmony. It is capable of being the straw that breaks the camel's back. Many couples report fighting over the cost of getting rid of these blood suckers. You have to take control of the situation as soon as possible. If partners provide support to one another, it will make the process easier.
It is essential that the couple sits down and has an in-depth conversation about bed bugs, and how they affect the budget. Each person needs support one another, cope with emotions, and try approach the problem logically.
Sure, it is OK to vent. If you can not vent to your partner, who can you vent to? Once the venting is over, it is time to become a problem-solving team. A great way to avoid bed bug relate money fights is to research the costs together.
Or, one person can research the problem and then bring the figures to the others attention. In this case, the other member needs to listen. If they disagree, then they need to do some of their own research.
Once both people in the relationship understand what it will cost, and how it fits in to the budget, it becomes easier to diffuse the anxiety caused by the added financial stress.
Are Bed Bugs the Source of Your Conflict?
Fighting Over Bed Bugs
Bed bugs cause people in relationships to fight more. If the fighting is not over money, then it is over something else. Stress manifests itself differently in different couples. Fighting can be caused by many things.
Couples report an increase in fighting when a person feels they are working harder than the other. This can make the person working the hardest to feel as if the other does not prioritize their relationship. After all, if there is a problem, shouldn't both members work just as hard to solve it? When both partners already feel that they are doing their fair share, the problem can be more complex. This is why every couple needs a solid bed bug plan.
Nickola C. Overall of The University of Auckland, and James K. McNulty of Florida State University wrote a well researched article about the types of communication that are most helpful when in a stressful situation.
According to them, "Understanding what constitutes effective communication during conflict requires clarifying whether communication expresses opposition versus cooperation and represents direct versus indirect attempts to resolve problems".
If you find yourself fighting with your partner because of bed bug related conflict, then try to establish cooperative communications, stick to the facts, avoid the what if's, and create a plan together. Use such a plan to understand how to exterminate bed bugs without creating unhelpful types of conflict.
A couple can sit down with a plan and decide who will be responsible for which responsibilities. This way, both people in the relationship feels that there is an equal amount of work and effort going in to the issue. If a couple openly talks about money, and split the bed bug extermination work equally, then they will not fight as much.
Communication, Commitment, and Bed Bugs
Clear communication and commitment are the cornerstone of managing bed bug related stress. Effective relationship communication skills are put to the test when infestation occurs. Communication is one of the main themes in marriage, or any serious romantic relationship. If a couple does not talk openly and honestly about the bed bug issue, then they have no release for their frustrations.
Not only is there no release, the lack of communication will interfere with the entire bed bug extermination process. This interference can cause frustration may breed conflict. Talking peacefully about bed bugs, how they affect the budget and how to split the work all hinge on couples ability to communicate effectively.
Without proper communication, bed bug can cause a relationship to experience an early demise. You can't force people to change how they communicate. You can't force other people to change their perceptions. Each person in the relationship must take responsibility for their own communication and perceptions, and not try to control others.
If one person refuses to make adjustments in their communication and perceptions for the other, the issue goes much deeper than bed bugs. Each individual needs to be willing to meet the other halfway in the time of stress and crisis.
This means that each person needs to understand how to be an effective listener. They must be able to hear how the other things and feels without criticizing their partner.If there must be anger, direct it at the bed bugs, not each other. Each person must be willing to see the others point of view and to support each other in coping. Remember, for better or worse includes bed bugs.
Be a good listener. Investing in listening reduces the friction caused by bed bugs. When both parties learn to listen, then it promotes open and honest communication that can make a relationship flourish. Communicating openly and calmly about bed bugs can prevent relationship breakdown.
The Possibility of Depression
Watch Out for Signs of Depression
Anxiety and stress can put a major strain on a relationship. Either one, or both, partners might be suffering from enough stress to pull two loving people apart. Bed bugs can make one, or both partners far less than amorous, but that might be the least of the worries. It's also know to cause temporary depression for some people. One which is likely to last the duration of the infestation.
In some cases, severe stress and anxiety induced by the presence of bed bugs leads to crippling depression, which is dangerous to even the best of marriages. Hopefully through supportive behaviors, effective listening and honest communication, two people can help each other cope with anxiety or stress about bed bugs.
However, if either one of you are overwhelmed with the feelings it might be a good idea to seek professional help. Be as supportive as possible if you find your partner is especially stressed out by bed bugs. Lots of healthy people speak with a counselor, or other type of mental health professional before a problem gets out of hand.
Bed bugs are reported to rarely cause post traumatic stress disorder, or something similar. If one member of the relationship simply can not handle the emotions that come with bed bugs, the other has to be willing to pick up the slack. You can't do it alone. Therapists are a great way to supplement your support circle in times of need.
For sickness and health includes depression, which can be brought on by bed bugs.,No matter how severe the depression, do not take it personally. Instead, continue offering love and support. Eventually, this will help to build the other person back up. If you are the one feeling that you might have slipped in to depression, then be open to speaking with a mental health professional about treatment options.
- Psychological Science. (2015). Stress Affects How Men and Women Provide Support to Partners. Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/stress-affects-how-men-and-women-provide-support-to-partners.html
- K. Randall, Ashley & Bodenmann, Guy. (2016). Stress and its Associations with Relationship Satisfaction. Current Opinion in Psychology. 13. 10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.05.010.
- Home Advisor. (2018). How Much Does Bed Bug Treatment Cost. Retrieved from https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/environmental-safety/bed-bug-treatment/
- McNulty, James K. Overall, Nickola C. 2018. What Type of Communication During Conflict is Beneficial for Intimate Relationships?. Final Version Curr Opin Psychol. 2017 Feb; 13: 1–5. doi: [10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.03.002]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5181851/
© 2012 Melody Collins
Melody Collins (author) from United States on June 07, 2012:
You are right, there are a ton of Hotels that have infestations. Also, college dorms are becoming an issue as well you can look up a place to stay here: http://bedbugregistry.com/. Not every hotel infested with bed bugs is listed, but it is a place to start.
Jamie Brock from Texas on June 07, 2012:
I have been hearing about bed bugs a lot lately... I hate to say it but for a long time I didn't even know they existed until I saw a special on TV talking about how some hotels were infested with bedbugs and to be sure not to stay at these places or you could bring them into your home...it kind of freaked me out! I can definitely see why it would be stressful on a relationship especially if one was trying to minimize the problem. Disease or not, it's a bug and I sure don't want it in my bed.. no way! Interesting hub, voting up :)
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 05, 2012:
There is certainly a lot of good information about the problems that can occur in any marriage, regardless of bed bug. Interesting hub.
annerivendell from Dublin, Ireland on June 04, 2012:
This is so much more about relationships than about bed bugs. If something is a big deal to one partner, then it should be a big deal to both. That's what partnership is about. If it's wasn't bed bugs, something else was bound to show up the cracks in this relationship. Thank you for the hub, it was interesting.
wynnestudios from Phoenix, AZ on June 04, 2012:
Wow, I can't believe the military has a bed bug expert. LMAO... Awesome!
Melody Collins (author) from United States on June 02, 2012:
You are absolutely right. Denial, an unequal share of labor/costs and honest communication are essential in a relationship. The interesting part is that Sally and George "thought" they had all of that, until they got bed bugs. Thanks for the vote, and stopping by!
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on June 01, 2012:
Interesting way to present this info. Reading between the line, so to speak, I can see that this discussion can relate to many relationship problems. That makes this even more interesting. You got my vote. Congratulations on your HubNuggets nomination.
Melody Collins (author) from United States on June 01, 2012:
I think denial is the worst, and most dangerous stage with bed bugs. The quicker you get on top of it the quicker you find relief. Every day a person puts it off is a person the bed bugs multiple.
Wow, Hub Nugget nomination,that is so cool, thanks!
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 15, 2012:
Bedbugs do cause a lot of problems, they must be done away with.Marital problems, my God it does irritate when one partner says it's no big deal when it really means a lot to the other. Bedbugs be gone!!
Melody Collins (author) from United States on May 15, 2012:
I agree. In today's economy and job market it is tough enough as it is! Truthfully, it was the emotional and psychological struggles I have seen people with bed bugs going through which motivated me to create this hub.
Dianna Mendez on May 15, 2012:
Those bugs cause a lot of frustration in any relationship. It would be tragic within a young married couple's with so much at stake within a tight budget. Interesting read on this one.