Thou Shall Irritate Your Spouse

Family Bridges

Thou Shall Irritate Your Spouse

Contributed by
Alicia La Hoz, PsyD

Do you wake up in morning purposely thinking how you can irritate your spouse by doing, or not doing, something that irritates him or her? Leaving the toilet seat up, leaving the half empty cup of coffee on the kitchen table instead of in the sink – or better yet rinsed and washed, etc.?

So many marriages seem to come to the brink because of the everyday irritants that have the power to convert the most stable person into the incredible hulk that destroys everyone and everything in his/her path.

Why is it that irritants can precipitate so much turmoil in relationships? Let’s back up for a bit. When you think about the things that set you off, there are at least two things at play that work together to turn on the intensity and to blow up a seemingly fickle situation.

Sometimes you make the mistake of assuming the person is motivated to do what they do or don’t do to irritate you on purpose. You may assume that they don’t love you, don’t care about you, and don’t appreciate what you have to offer. After all, you have already told them a thousand times that they when they empty the garbage can, they should put in a new garbage bag, or to put a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom when they see it’s run out, or to put their dirty clothes in the hamper instead of throwing it on the floor. Most people don’t wake up thinking about how to intentionally make their partner feel miserable. Most of the time, people are too busy living in their own world, juggling their own stressors, and fighting their own inner demons to aggressively pursue hurting another. If you want to be at peace in your marriage, remember that your spouse most likely isn’t trying to be like the bad witch, scheming plans to hurt you on purpose.

You have your own nuances and certain ways you like things to be done and for when you would like to see these things happen. In this same way, others have their own way of doing things and their own priorities and values. These crash with yours. And guess what? They will more than likely choose their own way of doing things over your way. Learn about your spouse’s personality style and quickly figure out what reasonable changes you both can make and expect of one another. And remember to see how these differences are helpful to your own personal growth and that of your family’s.

Go out of your way to listen to your spouse and to accept influence from them from time to time. Follow up on a suggestion and a request they make. When you see your spouse follow up on something you’ve asked them to do and contribute in any way, thank them for it. Remember to be thankful and show your appreciation as often as possible. Feeling appreciated and being thankful goes a long way in comforting and easing your spirit.

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