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You’re annoying the sh*t out of your partner.
Yes…you. I know it’s hard to hear, but you are.
And for those of you who aren’t currently in a relationship, it’s possible you may have been doing the same thing at one time with your ex.
How do I know this?
Because we all have a tendency to sit around and commiserate about the things our partner does that can be irritating as hell and then ask for other people’s opinions on whether we’re batsh*t crazy to want to strangle them!
So, what is it that many of us do that tends to be the number one thing most couples argue about in their relationship?
I like to refer to it as the “Why Doncha Do It Like I Want You to Do It” syndrome. It goes something like this:
“Why are you doing it that way? You know, if you just did it this way, it would be so much easier.” Or: “I don’t get why you watch so much TV! Can’t you just relax and read a book?” (Mumbles under breath about not understanding how anyone can watch so many episodes of “The Office” while casually dropping a stack of self-help books on partner’s nightstand).
Or maybe it sounds a little like this: “Why do you feel that way? I would never react like that if someone did that to me.”
The biggest issue I hear most couples complain about is that their partner isn’t doing something they want them to do. Or that they’re doing something they want them to do, but not in the exact way they want them to do it. And they can’t help but give them a little, shall we say, “direction.”
Listen, I’m not saying that these complaints aren’t valid—but in all honesty, the way to getting what we want from anyone, especially someone we love, is not by making them feel bad about who they are and how they do things.
So, how can we meet each other somewhere in the middle?
I like to think of this as “Five Tips to Way Better Communication with your Boo:”
1. Accept your partner for exactly who they are and who they aren’t. This means stop b*tching about the fact that your partner doesn’t like to work out with you—they were a total couch potato in the first place. They aren’t changing because you recently decided you wanted to go keto and run a 10K last week. Find a friend who also gets off on counting carbs and taking long runs at 5 a.m. Let your boo sleep in and enjoy their pasta.
2. Always lead with what you love about them. Before you get into how much you hate the fact that they get their panties in a bunch every time you discuss finances, try starting the conversation off with “I really appreciate how much you want to take care of us financially,” before launching into how they have to stop being such a tightwad.
3. Remember: they aren’t you. That means they don’t see the world the same, have the same sleep habits, crave the same foods, or stress over things you might pop a Xanax over. Remind yourself of this whenever they don’t respond to something the way you would, and come at them with that understanding.
4. Use a little humor to make a point. I use this with my ex a lot because we co-parent together. When he’s getting all riled up over something and it’s getting a little heated between us, I try to lighten the mood. I might say something like, “Whoa, killer! Easy. Did someone not have their coffee this morning?” It breaks the tension so everybody stops taking themselves so seriously, and it diffuses the conversation.
5. Stop making them wrong. That means stop making the way they feel wrong, the way they think wrong, their reactions wrong, or even the way they hang the toilet paper roll in the bathroom wrong. Come at them with the intention of trying to understand why they think the way they do or why they have certain reactions to things. Could it be how they were raised? Could it be that they grew up in a different culture than you? Maybe they’re an Aries and you’re a Capricorn…hello! That can really throw the communication between the two of you.
At the end of the day, the only person we can control is ourselves. Our reactions. Our perceptions. And how to choose to respond to things.
Remember, people love to hear what they’re doing right. It also kind of works in getting what you want, but in a way that makes your partner feel seen, heard, and accepted for exactly who they are.