The bottom line is that whatever traits you find irritating or annoying in your partner, go ahead and make the assumption that they’re not going to change. It’s a very good assumption, since this is nearly always the case. People will only change if they’re driving the change themselves. It’s the old saying: you can’t change others, you can only change yourself. The other side of this is that it is possible to change your own thinking about the annoyance. If you can learn to look at it as a loveable trait (not always easy to do, but possible), you will find yourself much happier. It can also help to look at yourself and know that you have some really annoying traits as well – and one of those traits may just be nagging other people about their bad habits.
Of course, you can always try to talk to your guy about the behavior that you find irritating, but just know that you’ll be treading on thin ice. If you decide to go this route, make sure that you pick a time when you’re not angry, irritated or annoyed – otherwise it will not be received well, and will most likely turn into a bitter argument with lots of hurt feelings. Do it at a time when you’re calm, cool and collected, and beforehand remind yourself of all of the loveable traits that made you fall for this nearly perfect guy to begin with. Then, when you approach him with the request to change his habit, start out softly, with a compliment of some sort, and follow with a statement about the behavior that reflects how it makes you feel. For example, you might say “Sweetie, I love the way you’re always looking out for me and taking care of me, you’re so considerate. I wanted to let you know that I feel really stressed when the sink is piled full of dishes for a long time. I was wondering if you could help me with that by putting your dishes in the dishwasher right away. Could you do that for me? It would really help to lower my stress levels, and I think I’d be a lot happier.”
As I said, you’ll need to be treading very lightly here, and know that, depending on your particular guy, this could still erupt into an argument with him feeling hurt, getting defensive, and maybe even turning it back onto you with a criticism that you weren’t expecting. If this happens, your best bet is to gracefully back down and table it. Then re-assess again whether or not you think you could live with it. Even if the conversation goes well, and he changes his behavior, it’s likely it will only be temporary. Habits are very hard to break, particularly when you’re doing it for someone else, and essentially entail rewiring/reprogramming the brain. If you do see some positive change after your discussion, don’t forget to sweetly acknowledge his effort with a hug and a thank you – this will go a long way toward making the change permanent. If he later slips back into his old patterns, you can try gently reminding him, but know that nagging a partner can have some of the most damaging effects of any behavior on a relationship.