What’s are your spouse’s most annoying habits? Is it the way they talk, eat, sit, clean up? Do they perhaps hum an annoying tune or crack their knuckles? When was the last time they did something that irritated you? Last week? Yesterday? An hour ago?

One of the most annoying things about annoying habits is that they can be so small, but still drive you mad. Overtime you may find the list of annoying habits grow. It may not be that your spouse has added more irritating habits as years have gone by, but instead, a sign your “honeymoon period” is over. Habits that used to be easy to put up with, now wind you up. Perhaps it is just me, but I find annoying habits frustrating on two levels, one habit itself and two the inability to let it go and not let it bother you.

So what can be done about annoying habits? And are they important to marriage success?

Before I answer these questions it is important to distinguish between annoying habits and annoying activities. Annoying habits I count in my marriage coaching as personal mannerisms which are done repeatedly and habitually without thought. These are different to annoying activities, as these are things your spouse deliberately thinks about and does. For example getting drunk, sports activities, personal exercise programs and night life. This is more independent behavior, which I will address in another article soon. If you want to discuss sooner, feel free to message me.

So is addressing annoying habits crucial to marriage success? Yes when we are annoyed, we feel that others are being inconsiderate, especially after we have already told them that it gets on our nerves and they still continue. We argue that it is not only the habit itself but the fact that they aren’t thinking or caring about our feelings. Or that they haven’t bothered to listen to us.

But when it is the other way round, that is, when an annoying habit we do affects someone else, we think – why can’t they just get over it? Why can’t they accept me as I am? Why can’t they adjust? You may feel like saying “just leave me alone.” I remember feeling like this as a child, my parents frequently pointed out habits that annoyed them. When your spouse starts, you may feel like you are living back with your parents and think in your head “just leave me alone.”

But, the truth is, we need to address it. Through my work as an international relationship coach, I have seen marriages breakdown and love destroyed because of annoying habits. As they can lead to the couple not wanting to be around each other anymore. Sherya couldn’t stand the way Nikhil made a sound when eating. Every meal time she would get really wound up and feel negative towards him. Sometimes it got to her so much, that she would hurt her throat where she would tense her throat muscles. She no longer could eat her food and started making excuses to eat alone. She was so angry at herself for reacting in this way but couldn’t help it. Put simply every annoying habit can weaken your compatibility, so you drift apart.

So what can and should you do to address annoying habits?

In my work as a coach helping people change habits, their reactions and adapt to different life situations, I have seen that it is far easier for the person with the habit to change than ask the person who has the reaction to it.

All habits can be changed, it takes practice. At first new behaviors will seem uncomfortable, and strange. Nikhil agreed to eat differently but had no clue how to really do that, so I suggested he copied the way Sherya ate her food. They found this hilarious to teach and practice and couldn’t stop laughing at dinner time. They even had me in fits of laughter when they reported their success during our session. Joking aside it was really about slowing down the way he ate. Sherya also avoided crunchy salads until he had adapted. Nikhil began to notice how his family ate like he used too and could empathize with Sherya, when they visited they would notice and smile at one another, whilst putting on the background music.

If your partner has an annoying habit, that is affecting you and how you feel about them, the following steps may help.

Step 1 Tell the truth

In a calm voice and relaxed manner be honest and tell your spouse what they are doing is annoying you. Don’t bottle it up or lie about how you feel. Explain it is not them you want to change, just the habit.

Step 2 Commitment to change

In order for change to take place you must both be aware of the importance of resolving annoying habits. Recognizing that they can drive a wedge between you and that whilst they may seem small or insignificant to other person it will affect your marriage. Overtime it can lead to you not wanting to live and be together anymore.

Step 3 Work together

None of us likes to be criticized. When I address these issues in my marriage counseling sessions I ask couples to say they have a problem with the behavior and not the person. It is also important not to point out habits unless you are both willing and prepared to do something about them. The worst thing you can do is to spend hours criticizing each other destroying more love and then do nothing. So you want to create a plan for addressing it.

I encourage couples I work with to communicate anything that gets on their nerves. Ideally write a long list of habits to eliminate down on paper. Then circle the top 3 on each of your lists for the other person to change and commit your plan. Rather than giving them a huge list. Also remember to keep your sense of humor about it.

Step 4 Empathy

Empathy is SO SO important when it comes to improving a marriage. No matter what the problem is, try to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Whilst at first it may be hurtful to hear them complaining, remember they also don’t want to be annoyed, they too cannot help but get wound up. They are likely to have battled in their own head to get over it, but that hasn’t worked, so they are opening up to you. Appreciate this and each other’s perspectives.

Step 5 Express your feelings

Once you have discussed and created your plan. Don’t let the annoyance build, express when they do it again. Say “That’s really irritating me again, can you stop doing that” This will prevent you from holding the anger internally. Recognize that they may have genuinely forgotten and are not doing it deliberately.

Step 6 Be Patient

Old habits can be hard to stop, so be patient and don’t expect miracles straight away. If you are changing a habit keep at it, at first it may seem difficult and feel unnatural but once learned it will become normal again. Experts say in order to form a new habit, it takes 21 days of continuous practice.

If your habit is more than a personal mannerism, i.e not the way you clean up after yourself or don’t, talk, eat etc and more similar to or an addiction – get support.
As always, I hope there is something useful for you today. Have a wonderful weekend,

From my heart to yours, Nicola

Author's Bio: 

Nicola Beer is an International Relationship & Divorce Coach who helps her clients find peace and create a new beginning after Marriage Breakdown and Divorce. This includes helping couples on the verge of a breakup to resolve their relationship issues once and for all, so that they can revive the love, passion, respect, and fun that's been missing.

As well as helping clients during and after Divorce to manage stress, create more income and adjust to new financial realities, redefine who they are, create a new social life, and when they are ready attract someone great. Nicola also runs 2 parenting programs that support children through and after divorce

Nicola has combined 11 years' experience helping people with emotional issues. This comprises 7 years private coaching and 4 years as a volunteer for the Samaritans where she supported callers dealing with any emotional distress. She is UK certified in Coaching, Grief Recovery for Adults and Children, NLP, Time Line Therapy, Hypnosis.

Nicola's passion to support people before, during and after divorce comes from her own childhood, where due to the stress of divorce her mother suffered a mental breakdown. As 1 of 5 children the divorce was devastating for her family and affected each of her family in different ways. More recently Nicola's older sister with 4 children is going through a difficult divorce. Having experienced and seen the pain and stress associated with divorce Nicola is focused on proving solutions. She knows divorce doesn't have to mean disaster and takes her clients and their children from surviving to thriving. She is equally passionate about saving marriages, so has a program to overcome relationship problems.

Nicola works with expats and locals, Muslims and Non-Muslims from all over the world, mainly from Dubai, London, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, either in person for a 2 day intensive package or further afield US, Australia via video conference and phone.