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How to Survive 50 Common Marital Pet Peeves

Common pet peeves and their impact on marriages and relationships

Relationships are fertile breeding grounds for pet peeves to develop. While we learn to tolerate some of our partners’ annoying habits, others can become even more irritating over time. Once pet peeves begin to accumulate, they can be highly damaging to a couples’ emotional bond. In some cases, pet peeves can make one member of the couple feel emotionally allergic to the other, hastening the demise of the entire relationship.

50 Shades of Pet Peeves: How I Came Up with the List

I spent a month listing the pet peeves my patients mentioned most often, hoping to end up with a list of twenty-five. I reached fifty before the end of week three (albeit some people did contribute several examples). The list is comprehensive but it should be considered anecdotal, not scientific.

Following the list I present 10 tips for surviving and discussing pet peeves with your partner.

The List of 50 Pet Peeves: Both Regular and Extra Annoying Versions

1. Toilet seat not ready for landing, i.e., left up (read more here).

Extra annoying—leaving golden droplets on the floor as well.

2. Driven to distraction by electronic devices (read more here)

Extra annoying—being so absorbed as to not answer when spoken to.

3. Disguising empty cartons as full by returning them to the fridge

Extra annoying—you had asked them to get some and they forgot.

4. Clothing abandonment, mostly all over the bedroom floor.

Extra annoying—leaving them in a passageway or on stairs

5. Waterboarding towels by leaving them wet on the floor.

Extra annoying—running out of clean towels and using yours.

6. Whistling up a headache for the other person.

Extra annoying—whistling a song they know you hate.

7. Joke reruns by repeating the same few jokes over and over again.

Extra annoying—looking at you expecting you to laugh.

8. Trashing the car by leaving trash in it.

Extra annoying—doing it right after the car was cleaned

9. Fingernail and cuticle buffet, by endlessly biting them.

Extra annoying—leaving the droppings on the living room table.

10. Toilet roll sabotage by not replacing it when it’s empty.

Extra annoying—when the spare roll is in a different room.

11. Refusing to ask for directions or use the GPS.

Extra annoying—you’re already late or lost.

12. Rude awakenings by making noise when you’re still sleeping.

Extra annoying—they hate being woken up themselves.

13. Midnight sofa squatting by falling asleep on the couch and refusing to go to bed.

Extra annoying—getting really annoyed if you try to wake them.

14. Key relocation program by not returning shared keys to their correct place.

Extra annoying—blaming you for losing them.

15. Chewing like a farm animal and other bad table manners.

Extra annoying—No effort made when dining with your boss or parents.

16. Parking space hogging by occupying both spots in a two car garage or on in parking lots.

Extra annoying—tossing you the keys so you can move their car when you complain.

17. Chronic lateness.

Extra annoying—missing flights, shows, or events because of it.

18. Confusing shower with toilet by urinating or blowing their nose in the wrong one.

Extra annoying—doing it when you’re in the bathroom too.

19. Nocturnal blanket or comforter theft.

Extra annoying—getting angry when you try to wrestle back a corner for yourself.

20. Toothpaste tube vandalism by squeezing from the middle not the end.

Extra annoying—leaving toothpaste droppings in and on the sink.

21. Facial fight club, by picking unnecessary fights with pimples, blackheads, or scabs.

Extra annoying—getting upset they made it worse after you already warned them.

22. Violating movie behavior codes by talking while you’re trying to watch.

Extra annoying—starting a loud phone conversation when you’re trying to watch TV.

23. Expecting ashtrays to empty themselves.

Extra annoying—shoving wet garbage in ashtray so entire room smells.

24. Poor pick pocketing by placing clothes in hamper with items in the pockets.

Extra annoying—blaming you for ruining whatever they left in there.

25. Bad hygiene by ‘forgetting’ to shower, brush teeth, or change underwear.

Extra annoying—when they expect you to get romantic regardless.

26. Chronic indecision by refusing to suggest specific foods, restaurants, movies, activities.

Extra annoying—blaming you when they don’t enjoy the meal, show or activity.

27. Blatant task neglect by forgetting basic duties they agreed or volunteered to do.

Extra annoying—getting mad at you for inquiring or reminding them.

28. Mutter of fact by muttering endlessly.

Extra annoying—getting irritated when you think they’re talking to you.

29. Waiter bullying by being needlessly rude to waiters and other service providers.

Extra annoying—getting mad at you for not backing them up.

30. Food pirating by plundering food and deserts off your plate.

Extra annoying—insisting they don’t want any for themselves while plunder continues.

31. Dirty dozen bedside glasses collection.

Extra annoying—getting annoyed at you when they can’t find a clean glass.

32. Dishwasher malpractice—loading improperly so it fits only two plates and a bowl.

Extra annoying—they’re champions at Tetris.

33. Unauthorized toothbrush or razor borrowing.

Extra annoying—getting offended if you cut yourself on used blade and protest.

34. Climate change by manipulating thermostats or windows without previous negotiation.

Extra annoying—doing it by stealth in the middle of the night.

35. Snooze alarm torture by repeatedly hitting the snooze button when you’re still sleeping.

Extra annoying—getting annoyed at you for waking them up to complain.

36. Snoring and keeping you awake (read more here).

Extra annoying—refusing to do something about it or go to a sleep clinic.

37. Facebook oversharing by putting private pictures up without your consent.

Extra annoying—they look great in the pic and you look horrible.

38. Wardrobe malfunctions such as packing the whole closet for an overnight trip.

Extra annoying—starting the trip in a foul mood because of extra baggage fees.

39. Over-controlling the remote control.

Extra annoying—flipping channels incessantly during every commercial break.

40. Bad talk timing by starting serious talks when you’re about to leave for work.

Extra annoying—accusing you of not caring when you’ve already missed the train.

41. Hypochondriacs R us, by turning into a baby at the first sign of a cough or cold.

Extra annoying—expecting to be pampered while they look up symptoms of rare cancers.

42. Wiki leaks of crucial plot twists in books, shows or movies you planned to read or see.

Extra annoying—telling you when you’re in the middle of the movie or book.

43. Shoulder tap as substitute for foreplay.

Extra annoying—you’re already asleep.

44. Post hoc excuses, e.g., forgetting Valentine’s Day and claiming it’s too commercialized.

Extra annoying—you reminded them a week earlier.

45. Allowing the dog to lick their face and mouth.

Extra annoying—trying to kiss you immediately thereafter.

46. ‘Glitter’ bombing sink with facial hair bristles after shaving.

Extra annoying—doing it right after the bathroom was cleaned.

47. Coughing like Gollum, i.e., with phlegmy sound effects.

Extra annoying—they refuse to stop smoking.

48. Newspaper stalactites, tall piles of old issues they haven’t read yet and never will.

Extra annoying—claiming they still plan to read an article from the nineties.

49. Pillow fluffing mania by constantly fluffing sofa or bedroom pillows.

Extra annoying—doing it when you get up to take a quick bathroom break.

50. Used tissues left around the house.

Extra annoying—you didn’t realize they were still wet.

How to Discuss Relationship Pet Peeves

1. Don’t sweat the mildly annoying pet peeves—prioritize the highly annoying ones.

2. Discuss no more than two pet peeves at a time and preferably one.

3. Try to be delicate in how you address the issue. Make sure to frame it as something minor (e.g., “This is not a huge deal but I do want to discuss it”).

4. Discuss only the specific behavior and not their personality or intention (e.g., “I wish you wouldn’t leave empty cups in the bedroom,” as opposed to “You’re lazy”).

5. Use the complaint sandwich to present the problem (see tutorial here).

6. Ask if they are willing to work on the issue, don’t demand they do.

7. Use ‘I’ statements to explain why the issue annoys you (e.g., when I find toenail clippings on the living room table I feel a little disgusted).

8. Be prepared for them to bring up their own pet peeves about you and be open to addressing them (even if you don’t think they’re as big a deal as the one you brought up).

9. Thank them for listening and for their willingness to make efforts (if they agree to do so).

10. If and when they improve, thank them and let them know you appreciate their efforts.

Did I miss your favorite pet peeve? Feel free to add it in the comments section.

View my short and quite personal TED Talk about Psychological Health here:

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For more about how complaints impact our relationships check out The Squeaky Wheel.

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Copyright 2013 Guy Winch