Let me get it out in the open: your spouse will annoy you from time to time. Some of these annoyances may be severe and often; whereas, others may be so rare they take you by surprise. Regardless of how wonderful of a marriage you have, you will get on each other’s nerves occasionally. So, how do you deal with it?
Maybe he would rather drive lost for an hour than ask someone for directions. Maybe she can never be on time. Maybe he likes to make jokes at the wrong time. Maybe she just can’t seem to keep the kitchen clean. The lists of possibilities are endless. As you live your life as a married couple, he or she will do or say something that frustrates you.
Obviously, there are better and worse ways to handle frustrations. Small annoyances, if handled poorly, can escalate to a full blown fight in a matter of seconds. If he is humming the same first line to a song he doesn’t really know – and he has done so for the past hour and a half on a road trip – you have a few options:
- You can chew your hair and try to ignore it as it drives you insane more with each passing minute.
- You can scream at him or her to shut his or her face.
- You can gently ask the person if he or she realizes what he or she is doing and if that person would mind stopping.
Obviously the first and second choices wouldn’t work well and may lead to screaming (and screaming is not the way to anyone’s heart). Gently bringing up the annoyance is the best route and to have the ability to bring it up gently, you need to bring it up before it builds up inside to where you are about to explode.
Since the example above is a mild situation, let’s go a little deeper…. Let’s say you and your wife are at a party and every time you make a joke, she laughs and smacks you on the back of the head. Not a hard smack, but she does it consistently throughout the night. In this scenario, she has no idea that this is a problem; however, it’s not only embarrassing you, it’s making you angry. If it builds up inside of you, you might lash out at her in front of all your friends – and let me tell you guys, all you are going to get from that reaction is a furious and/or crying woman – neither of which are fun to have around.
Here’s an understatement: women don’t always understand what makes men tick and vice versa. When I was in high school, I got in the habit of smacking one of my good guy friends on the back of the head when I was in a good mood until he finally let me know how crazy it drove him. I’m just thankful he told me in private instead of repaying me for it by humiliating me in front of our friends. Years later, I found out from my husband that smacking a man on his head is a huge sign of disrespect – at least, he thinks so… and I’m so glad to know that (now)!
When your spouse annoys you, frustrates you, or completely breaks your heart, it is important to not react by making your annoyance plain to everyone around you. When you and your spouse have a fight, it is tempting to tell a lot of people about it because you want validation, or because you are so angry you feel compelled to defame his or her character. The problem with this is that you and your spouse are bound to make up, fight again, make up again, and so forth. So, why is that such a problem?
The people you talk to about your spouse’s shortcomings don’t get to see the restoration of the relationship – and let’s face it, we are more vigilant about telling others about the unpleasant behaviors our spouses do than the positive ones. So, when you fill their minds with what your spouse has done to hurt you, they may come to see him or her as an ogre when you actually have a wonderful marriage. You will always be able to forgive your spouse more than your friends and family because you love your spouse in a way they do not.
Before reacting to life’s aggravations, be prayerful and make it a habit to thank God for your spouse. It may be the hardest words to utter or even think at the time, but doing so will soften your heart and remind you of all the good things your spouse brings to your marriage. Then ask for guidance on how to approach the other person.
Yelling may feel cathartic for a few seconds, but the aftermath can cost you so much and there are few events worth such negative emotion. Learn to approach each other softly; gentleness is key. Remember that a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1). If you are not practiced at gentleness, then you will fail at the beginning. Therefore, don’t be surprised or angry with yourself when you do. Continue to repent to God and to each other and learn from it.
What frustrations have you encountered with your spouse or significant other that you did not handle well? What were the consequences? What annoyances with your spouse or significant other have you handled well? What was the aftermath of a well handled confrontation verses one handled hastily?
Has this article been helpful for you in learning how to handle being annoyed with others?