Cope With Your Mate’s Habits

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Habits Are A Fact of Life

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For the past three years, Jillian and Sam have gone to bed while angry with each other. Nearly every night, they argue about bad habits in unproductive ways. There’s some name calling and hurt feelings after all is said and nothing is done.

We each have bad habits that we assume our mate accepts or considers cute. But once we begin living together, we test unconditional love. We sometimes can’t get over our life-partner’s silly habits. It doesn’t mean the relationship is falling apart. But it does indicate that adjustments are necessary.

5 Ways to Deal with Your Partner’s Habits

Your partner ate the best piece of bread. He leaves the toilet seat up. The socks are under the bed. Sigh! But you also do things that bother your mate. Minor adjustments can make you both happier. Address the root problems and find solutions with the following tips:

1. Separate Minor Annoyances From Detrimental Habits

Consider how badly a habit affects you personally and your marriage relationship. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a major issue, rate the habits that trouble you. If you have only a few 7 or 8 issues, address those with your mate as things that are serious to you.

Here’s a word of caution. It is tempting to give anything that bothers you a high score. So here’s a frame of reference. A 10 on this scale is something that is physically or financially devastating to the family. It includes physical or emotional abuse, the sale or use of strong non-prescription drugs, or other illegal activities.

Issues you list as 9 or 10, may require professional assistance. If there are only small numbers, ask yourself, “Is it damaging or just annoying?” Perhaps you are depleting your mental and emotional energy on something that is unimportant.

2. Share Your Feelings

Succinctly discuss how the concern makes you feel. You need to remain calm. So don’t wait until you’re angry and get passive-aggressive. Sticking to one point at a time, you might say, “You know I love you. But when you do this, I feel sad (hurt, helpless, frustrated, or overwhelmed).” Then ask if your mate can do anything to relieve these feelings from you.

3. Re-evaluate Your Own Thinking

Good News For Bad Habits

What bugs you, may not be a big deal to your partner. Are you overlooking your own habits? These have been engrained throughout your entire life.

For instance, you may be fuming when your mate continually forgets something you mentioned. (“How difficult is it to put the toilet cover down?”) At the same time, you might not make up the bed or turn off the lights in empty rooms.

4. Practice Not Letting It Get To You

When you speak loudly or make snarky remarks, it may not be an intentional action—it’s a reaction. The most potent antitoxin to irritation is being able to take a step back and re-examine your responses.

As you notice your behavior, take a deep breath and acknowledge your own failings. It encourages you to make better decisions about how to react.

5. Give It Some Time

After talking things through, give your mate time to change bad habits. Try not to expect things to improve overnight. Not every person has the same pace or capacity to change.

Give your partner a break and appreciate any attempts to understand your feelings. With open communication, you might even smile about each other’s bad habits. But avoid nagging, since this creates another annoyance.

Focus On The Positive

Jillian and Sam began applying these suggestions four months ago. Their level of stress is lower and there are far fewer arguments at the end of the day.

In the everyday tussles of married life, try to relinquish irritating habits from your mind. Focus more on the positive parts of your relationship. The key is to work together to alter the habits that can change—and learn to accept those that can’t.

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Co-author Faiza Khan Niazi writes about pregnancy and parenting.

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