How To Deal With Pet Peeves About Your Partner

Wouldn’t it be dreamy if life after “I do” went off without a hitch? But marriage and co-habiting aren’t fairy tales. If they were, Cinderella wouldn’t discard her dirty Kleenex around the house, and Prince Charming wouldn’t leave the toilet seat up. Our pet peeves can cause everything from financial stress (her shopping) to sleep deprivation (his snoring). To stop you from driving each other nuts, we tapped into the minds of top marriage counselors for some advice to resolve any pet peeve.

Do dissect your dissatisfaction. “Peeves can be symbolic for the couple around being heard and respected, and having control,” says Sandra Rotholc, a sex and marriage therapist. “Learning to step back to understand what is ‘so important’ about the issues helps.”

Don’t let the bothers brew. The small stuff really can add up.

Do discuss. “The number-one rule in working through a pet peeve is communication,” explains Dr. Guy Grenier, psychologist, marital therapist and author of The Ten Conversations You Must Have Before You Get Married.

Don’t attack. Name calling is never beneficial.

Do focus on feelings, not facts. Use “I” language, not “you” language, to avoid finger pointing.

Don’t downplay your partner’s pet peeve or (gasp!) tell them they’re being ridiculous. “A critical piece of any healthy relationship is acknowledging your partner’s feelings,” adds Grenier.

Do give and take. “Remember, good relationships are based upon mutuality,” says psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall, PhD, marriage therapist and author of Deal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away.

Don’t fall into gender stereotypes. There’s no law that says she can’t initiate sex or he can’t do the laundry. Writing your own relationship rules will help pet peeves vanish–poof!

Do divvy up household chores and childcare to avoid lingering resentments.

Don’t monitor each other’s personal purchases. “If you don’t get to be a grown-up in your grown-up relationship, your relationship isn’t going to work,” states Grenier, who suggests three bank accounts–his, hers and a joint account–to sidestep money spites.

Do pick the right time to discuss pet peeves. After a fight or right before bed isn’t the best time.

Don’t expect overnight changes. “If the problem is fixable, you’ll notice steady, incremental signs of change,” explains Marshall.

Don’t nag. “Tell that person that they have the right to remind you once, but that reminding you twice is off limits,” says Marshall.

Do focus on all the good things. We bet the love list is much longer than the critique column. Look at the bigger picture and keep things in perspective.

Don’t let the pet peeves trump the partnership. “They can only chip away at a relationship if you allow them to,” adds Rotholc.

Image(s): Dane Mark

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