So, you finally met the one. The one. And you love that one more than anything in the world. Maybe even more than life itself. At first it’s wonderful: this person can do no wrong. And better yet, to this person, you’re perfect just the way you are. Yep, life with a partner doesn’t get much better than during those first months with a new love. And then it starts — the newness wear off a bit and you realize there are things your partner does that annoy you. Maybe they chew with their mouth open, or snore on the sofa while you’re trying to work. Or maybe they stop to talk to every. single. person. they. see. at the grocery store. At first, you probably let many of these things slide. After all, it’s polite to say hello to people you come across at the grocery story. And it’s not really their fault if they snore, right? It’s probably not even worth bringing up — after all, why start a whole fight just because you’re annoyed with your significant other?
Here’s the thing, and I want you to remember this so really drill it in: telling your significant other that you don’t like something he or she is doing does not have to start a fight.
That’s right. By expressing annoyance in something, you should be starting a dialogue — not starting a fight. You see, annoyance comes from a place of perspective.
No one wakes up in a happy relationship and says “I’m going to see just how much I can annoy my partner today.” And if they do wake up saying that, well, then there are a few other issues at work that we can discuss later.
In an ideal world, we could feel comfortable divulging what annoys us with our partners and never worry about negative reactions. Actually, if we’re talking about ideal worlds, our partners would just never annoy us in the first place, right?
Actually, your partner isn’t even annoying you.
Yes, you read that right: your partner isn’t even annoying you. At least, they aren’t trying to. When your wife throws everything out of her closet screaming she has nothing to wear, it’s not because she’s trying to push your buttons. When your husband forgets to tell you that he’s working late again tonight, he’s not doing that because he’s trying to teach you a lesson about nagging him.
In fact, they aren’t doing anything to you. What they are doing, most of the time, is reacting to feelings and thoughts buried beneath the surface where you can’t see them. And anything else is beyond their control — which you already know, but because you’re already annoyed with other things they’re doing you allow your annoyance to continue.
Annoyance comes from not understand the feelings and thoughts that are driving these behaviors. So what should you do when you find yourself getting more and more annoyed with your partner?
Start trying to understand them, instead.
Always Assume Your Significant Other has a Reason
This is important because they do. And assuming both you and your partner are reasonable human beings, I can pretty much guarantee you that reason has nothing to do with wanting to annoy you. Perhaps they are fighting insecurities, or pressures at work. Perhaps they have their own battle raging. There are any number of reasons your partner might be acting in a way you find annoying. So, the first step is to take a deep breath and remind yourself that they have a reason.
Talk to Your Significant Other About Those Reasons
Ask thoughtful questions about your partner’s behaviors. The goal here is to get to know your partner a little better by understanding what they are going through at the time they behave in this manner. Don’t accuse them of anything, don’t start yelling about how annoyed you are… But really take the time to listen to them. If you need more information, ask for more information. And if they aren’t comfortable talking about it, don’t get offended or hurt. Just understand that something is there, and they will talk about it when they can.
Talk About Why It Annoys You
Believe it or not, the things we are annoyed by the most as adults are generally things we were punished for the most as children. That’s right…hate it when your partner’s late? Chances are if you think back to your childhood you were punished a lot for being late. Get annoyed when someone leaves a bowl on the counter instead of rinsing it in the sink? You were probably yelled at for that exact same thing…a lot.
Talk to your partner about these behaviors and once you understand a little bit better about why they do the things they do, explain some of the reasons it annoys you.
Your goal here is to work together to find a solution whenever possible for the things you can collaborate on. The more issues you can clear in a calm, understanding way, the less the other irritants will continue to annoy you.
Remember, it’s Normal to Get Annoyed
It is impossible to go through an entire relationship without ever getting annoyed at something your partner does. Just remember — you are in control of your emotions, including how annoyed you feel when your partner does something again. The best way to resolve these issues is to talk to your partner as soon as you can. Come from a positive place while you’re calm. Work together to resolve the issue the in the best way possible for both of you. Bottling up how annoyed you are because you’re afraid of starting a fight, or because you think it’s just no big deal and you can ignore it, can lead to much bigger problems later.
Better to have an uncomfortable but productive conversation now than to have a fight later.