Here are seven reasons why your husband does those annoying things he does:
- He has no idea it annoys you. It’s never occurred to him that burping during a meal or tossing underwear off with abandon or using baby talk to express affection could possibly even be seen as annoying. If he knew (well, if he knew and did not feel attacked for failing to read your mind or intuit social norms), he would change.
- He has no idea it annoys you. You told him long ago, but he’s forgotten. Tell him again, with compassion for a less than perfect memory and different manners training than you received.
- He knows it annoys you, but he’s pretty sure it won’t harm you. He’s got a bone to pick with you and either you’re ducking the issue or he believes tracking mud through the living room is a better means of getting your attention than telling you he’s upset. Ask if anything’s bugging him.
- He knows it annoys you, but it feels so good he can’t imagine why you won’t let him have the simple pleasure of watching TV with his pants unzipped or taking his time getting ready for a visit to your parents. Propose looking for a Third Alternative that gives him his pleasure without robbing you of yours.
- He knows it annoys you, but he thinks you will be a better person when you get over being annoyed by things like friends dropping by unannounced for something to eat or toilet seats left in whatever position they end up in. Become that better person. Let go of being annoyed, whether it takes creating a space in your home with a mini refrigerator full of salami for those guests or adding a big, pink handle to your toilet seat for lowering it. Is there really any point killing off any of your love for this man over a difference in opinion?
- He knows it annoys you. He knows it costs you significant time or money, causes you pain, or frightens you. And he apologizes or spins an explanation for doing what he did not intend. He may have lost control of his behavior through addiction, mental illness, brain tumor, or football injury, in which case you are the only person who can protect the two of you. If so, get help from a support group like AlAnon and live apart or with others who can control him until he gets treatment. He may instead have a furious anger. If it’s because you hurt him, appeal to his compassion, work hard on regaining his trust, and separate temporarily if necessary, because revenge does not bring marriages back together. If he’s angry over something else and taking it out on you, look for professional help for both of you.
- He knows it annoys you. He knows it costs you significant time or money, causes you pain, or frightens you. And he has no remorse, whether for raping you, gambling away the rent money, or ripping down your redecorating job. Get out. Get yourself and your children to safety today. Do not stay, even to protect your assets, as you will be losing something far more valuable, your ability to love and possibly your life.
If you, in an earlier marriage, before your husband’s rehab, or during your childhood, dealt with the sixth or seventh of these, be especially careful to start with the first as you try to understand now.