Confronting the behaviors that bug our partners, with a lot of humor and goodwill, can result in a more honest and tolerant relationship where both positives and negatives can be fully appreciated.
No matter how close we are to our partner, no matter how strong the bond and the mutual likes and dislikes, there are always little things that we do that “bug” our greatest audience. Too often, such personal habits are only discussed in the middle of a heated argument when they are hurled like missiles “And another thing, you always. . .”
Defuse the potential for discord by setting aside time every month or so to sit down and discuss such disconnects objectively and with a lot of good humor. While our tendency is to assure our loved one that there is absolutely nothing they do that we would want to change, there is always something. By concentrating on the irritating action itself, we can avoid criticizing the other as a person, or letting our emotions blow little transgressions into tornados.
Start small with things that only mildly “push your buttons.” Such things as leaving the toilet seat up, dropping wet towels on the bathroom floor, always taking a fresh glass for morning juice, or leaving piles of clothes in the corner – all of these can be annoying but are hardly make-or-break aspects of your union.
For every “bugs, me” behavior identified, see if you can figure out together how the situation can be resolved. Maybe one of you can agree to watch yourself carefully and try to avoid the activity altogether. Maybe one of you can become more flexible and allow for personal quirks to remain without the buildup of underlying resentment.
Make a game of monitoring each other. A cue word or phrase (“mayday”; “boy toy”; “bingo”; “who let the dogs out?”) can alert the partner in a humorous, non-threatening way and avoid a defensive response.
If two people care for each other, they will genuinely try to avoid irritating or disturbing each other but because two people will never be in total sync, it is important to develop a tolerance for each other’s flaws and foibles.
In the midst of our ever-busy lives, we try to concentrate on too much at once. Our time becomes so engaged in the problems and challenges of a demanding world that we forget or ignore the little things that our loved one does for us, simply because they care.
So end your discussion of annoying habits and possible solutions by also taking the time to review what things the other person has done that made you feel wonderful – the call to let you know they are running late, the coffee in bed on a Sunday morning, or how grateful you are that your partner handled your son’s school problems so well.
You should be able to walk away from your discussion with an upbeat feeling, secure in the knowledge that fate has dealt you the greatest card in the pack: an honest and thoroughly enjoyable union with the most wonderful person you have ever known.