Don't let the minutia ruin your bond.
Sometimes the toilet seat up is just the toilet seat up. But other times, that vertical piece of porcelain in the powder room is nothing short of a death wish, proof that your man never really loved you or respected you, and a justifiable cause for exiling him to the land where couches replace beds and where sex is a single-person sport.
At least that's how it feels.
An article in Psychology Today explains that petty annoyances can easily "coalesce into a vast, submerged force when they take on a different meaning in your mind, when you add them up as evidence of a character flaw or moral defect." But they don't have to.
"Every annoyance in a relationship is really a two-way street. Partners focus on what they're getting, not on what they're giving. But no matter how frustrating a partner's behavior, your interpretation is the greater part of it. What matters is the meaning you attach to it," the article says.
But what interpretation, you might ask, could possibly make those socks in the hall and those whiskers in the sink any less aggravating? Is there really any deeper meaning (other than "I'm an inconsiderate jerk") to those empty milk cartons in the refrigerator?
There might be. Here a few of the petty annoyances you should try to attach new meanings to, and how.
It's easy to feel as though messiness is a sign of disrespect, especially when there's no toilet paper on the roll and three wet towels on the floor. But the fact of the matter is that one-half of a partnership is always going to be messier than the other. Remember this.
"Instead of focusing on how inadequately he cleans, remind yourself of how much you appreciate his contribution to household chores. Changing your perspective can not only resolve the irritating issue, it can mend the dynamic of the whole relationship."
2. Seemingly deliberate habits
Do you really mean to chew your food the way you do? Laugh at the stuff that makes you laugh? Sing in a way that makes dogs in the next neighborhood squeal in pain? Probably not. And you know what? It might be the case that your sweetheart isn't deliberately trying to irritate you either.
Maybe he's not aware of the fact that his snoring makes you want to poison him in his sleep. Maybe his nail-biting has nothing to do with you. Maybe you need to stop taking everything he does so personally. Once you do that, consider whether or not you can live with the annoyance. If not, feel free to gently enlighten him about the fact that he hums when he reads makes it difficult for you to concentrate on watching TV.
There's nothing wrong with a little how-do-you-do, but if your partner's flirting has crossed the line from innocent friendliness to outright irritation, the article recommends that you "look beyond your own hurt feelings and ask yourself what your partner is looking for."
It might be the case that he wants more quality time, less nagging, more help with household chores, or just a little bit more fun. Take an honest look at what you are and aren't giving each other, and do your best to bring that back to the relationship.
Communication is good, but too much communication is bad. And yes, it's possible to communicate too much. If you feel that you and your partner are talking and talking, but all that's coming out is criticism and complaining, interrupt things.
Add some playfulness or a joke or an overtly affectionate move to the interaction. The goal in doing so isn't to shut down the conversation, but to make it more constructive and a little kinder. It might just be that you'll say less, but hear (and love) each other a little more in the long run.