Creating in Flow

The world of creativity—with a twist of rationality

Doesn’t He Know That Makes Me Want to Scream?

While working on a book about very happy couples in long-term relationships, I jotted down a list of my own spouse’s annoying (though trivial) behaviors. Silly or not, such habits may have an insidious effect. Unless... Read More

My wife likes to point out

My wife likes to point out the things I do to annoy her.

I don't point out any of her little flaws, because I just hate her as a whole.

Instead of a list, I'll just serve her divorce papers.

That's probably a good idea.

That's probably a good idea. I'm sure she's sick of being married to a child.

Please stop being so annoying

The annoying things don't ever change unless there is a desire to change and a conscious effort is put into changing them. So then, what does one do? Realize the annoyances aren't that important in the scheme of things.

I feel sorry for you

You are a sad person if you're annoyed by such trivialities. I do feel sorry for you, as your entire life must be miserable. I can't imagine that a person who would be annoyed by ice cubes being moved too often (which does cool the drink faster by the way, see thermodynamics 101) can be an enlightened and happy person.

Rather, all I can see is an annoying, petty, and probably constantly whining wife who will end up drying out all the love in her relationship.

Do you wake up in the morning and think "how am I going to ruin someone's day today?"

Can't let that go by

Well. Quite a strong response to my light-hearted litany of trivial annoyances.

FYI, I have learned to block out rap and heavy metal and avant-garde jazz (music my sons and husband like to listen to, which makes it hard for me to read in the same room). But I find it much harder to block out an intermittent ice-cube tinkle, which seems to go on and on like a water-torture device. Yet I've learned never to mention it to him anymore (except for this blog post).

Again, FYI, I'm a reasonably happy person in an awfully happy marriage. I'm sure my husband has had to learn to ignore some of my own annoying habits (we're together 30 years). The thing is that I'm a detail person and he isn't. We've talked openly about this sort of thing, and we've been able to compromise to the point where we laugh about our mutual shortcomings. I truly have learned to be less critical, and he's learned that when I say something bothers me and would he try not to do it, there's not any deep negative emotional content lurking within my simple request.

In fact, he rarely still leaves his shoes in places I'm likely to trip over them, he almost never leaves his keys in the front door anymore, and he comes running to fix any computer problem I have almost the very second he notices me hyperventilating. So I also give credit where it's due.

Have a nice day!

I agree, it's the little things that do you in

I think saddened totally misses the point like so many of us have over the years (see divorce rates).

Finding a person that you can spend the rest of your life with is about finding a person (no magic involved) that both of you can put aside the emotional passion fill blinders. That both of you can stop and use your mind and not your heart to scrutinize who you each really are. Too many times we can’t see beyond that new love feeling (similar to that new car feeling) and we overlook the things we normally can’t stand in a person. Does the sound of a person eating with their mouth open drive you insane, but with Mr. Prince do you ignore his bad manners? Do you really think that 5 years from now, that the sound of the Neanderthal smacking his lips and food flying out is not going to elicit a burning hatred inside your head.

We tell ourselves to not sweat the small stuff and to let small annoyances to just roll off. That ignoring them is the path to a happy healthy relationship. WAKE UP and stop being stupid (said in a kidding manner)! People, it’s the small stuff that ends up causing hate and discontent in a relationship. Suppressing our need to say “honey I start to feel very grossed out when you eat with your mouth open and I can’t enjoy our nice dinner”. We instead think that saying how we feel is just petty, mean or just comes off as nagging UNLESS it’s over something HUGE. SO we sit there thinking of the many ways we could kill the RUDE open mouthed eater (no longer referring to them as Mr. McDreamy) with our eating utensils. We stuff the small things down and start the slow boil inside. The thing about a slow boil is that eventually it becomes a full on BOIL and eruption MUST happen. This spine tingling, lose your ever loving mind WILL happen because as mere humans we can’t keep it inside forever or it eats us up.

So, I have changed how I look for the man I want to spend the rest of my life with and while I still enjoy the racing of the heart of "newness", I NOW scrutinize his every action. I ask myself, can I live with that god awful noise he makes or he how he doesn’t feel the need to help in the kitchen. Can I live and still love this man, knowing he will wear white calf socks pulled up in public? Because people, these ARE the small stuff! They are so easily overlooked early on, but so hard to look PAST later. If you feel that you just can’t sit down and let him know how some of these things make you feel or when you do, they dismiss your feelings and make you feel stupid, then RUN now. If they can’t seem to change on something so small that means something to you, then they won’t care when it comes to something big. Take a hint from Seinfeld’s episode with “Man hands” and be ok with knowing small things (woman with huge man hands) can be deal breakers.

A relationship isn’t easy and you won’t live happily ever after. I have spent the last 4 years and a lot of mistakes to realize this. While I am still not sure I am that good at it yet, I am educated and aware. All we can do is find someone that has faults we can live with and they can live with ours. That we can find someone that always puts our feelings first and we always put theirs first, even if it’s learning to eat with our mouths CLOSED!

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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and author. Her current focus is on the creative aspects of rationality and atheism.

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