Jennifer Johnston-Jones, Ph.D.
Tolerate your spouse’s annoying habits
How do you deal with and tolerate your spouse’s annoying habits? There’s some qualities about your partner that really, really need a change. Let’s say, sorry guys, I’m picking on you and women can be slovenly as well. But let’s say he is not showering regularly. Let’s say he has a lot of dandruff and it might be affecting his external relationships outside of your own marriage. If you’ve made the recommendation many times and your partner is not changing, and really stubborn, and has his or her foot in the ground, and is not willing to try your advice, you know, what’s going on? What is the issue? Is it shame? Is it not wanting to appear attractive? Is it trying to take you away from being intimate, from having sex as much, to be unattractive? So think about those issues, the deeper issues below the surface of the annoying habits. However, these really basic issues of grooming and hygiene and some qualities that would annoy anyone in the world, what I really recommend doing is giving some constructive criticism but don’t expect your partner to change.
One way to deal with these annoying habits is you can recommend, “Well, if you insist on picking your nose, can you do it while I’m not around?” But you cannot insist that your partner does not pick your nose in public if that’s something that he’s in the habit of doing. Even if it’s something that’s so overt that anyone in the world would be disgusted or annoyed, if you push too hard for that change, you’re going to push them off the edge.
It’s just like with children. I hate to say it, but you need to think of your spouse in some way as a child. If they’re so stubborn about things that they should not be stubborn about, the more you push the more they will push back. Instead, make a recommendation. Suggest that they do it when you’re not around or simply talk about your boundaries. “My boundaries in this relationship are that it disgusts me when you do not take showers and are unkempt. And for me it’s important that you do that.” So owning it, owning what it means to you, putting it out there, but again, you cannot force your spouse to change.
So, in the long run, if you’re begging your spouse to make a change, any change–fill in the blank and he or she is simply not doing it, you yourself need to think what do I need to do to change the situation myself? And ultimately, the only one you can truly change is yourself.
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