This guest post comes to us via The Naked Redhead blogs about relationships, life, and a million hilarious things. Go say hello!
The April issue of Psychology Today features the cover story, “You’re Driving Me Crazy: 10 Relationship Headaches and How to Fix Them.”
I only bought it because my boyfriend needed to learn him some lessons. A-hem. Right.
Anyway, the article is solid gold for any of you out there who find your partner annoying every now and again (anyone? Anyone?). Gone are the early relationship stages of picking up underwear and holding farts for days at a time, you are now in that phase of the relationship where if your partner isn’t giving you a German Steam Bath on a regular basis, he or she is at least leaving dirty dishes in the sink, or wet towels slung over the tops of doorways, or laughing shrilly in ways you never, ever imagined.
Family therapist John Van Epp says, “You don’t really live with the partner in your home. You live with the partner in your head.” I remember so many times during my marriage where I was SURE that my ex’s lack of general tidiness meant that he was trying to just piss me off. As I’ve matured a bit, I’ve come to realize that, as the article says, “Sometimes a sock on the floor is just a sock on the floor.”
A SOCK THAT IS GIVING ME A DIRTY LOOK AND CALLING ME ANAL RETENTIVE.
Whatever. Moving on.
So, I read this article and began thinking of the things that I find annoying in my boyfriend (none, baby, none. Go have yourself some chocolate and don’t read the rest of this post). One thing we’ve been working through is his summer schedule, and how he often forgets to check in when he’s gone for the day. I don’t need to know what he’s doing at all times, but he’ll often tell me that he’ll be gone for an hour or two to play volleyball, when lo and behold, it’s eight o’clock and he’s still not home.
So, last night, after a week of much better ETA communication, this scenario happens again. He texts at 6:30 to say, “I’ll be home in a few minutes” (progress!) and wow, look at the time, it’s way past eight, no texts, no phone calls, he’s just not home.
In my head, I’m thinking of the article, that the partner in my head is just an idealized version of who my boyfriend really is, and I’m trying to be patient, and understand that he just loves his sport, and time flies, and OH GOD, I AM SO HUNGRY, PLEASE HURRY THE EFF HOME. He FINALLY calls at 8:30, and I answer with a less than pleasant, “WHAT.”
To which he responds, “Please don’t be mad, I’ve been in the back of a police cruiser for the last half hour.”
Um, the partner in my head is not a criminal…WTF?
Turns out, he was pulled over because he was leaving the outdoor courts, which also happen to be located at a bar. The cops assumed he’d been drinking, pulled him over, ran his tags, and oops! He had a warrant for his arrest from an unpaid parking ticket. So, into the back of the car he went until they could figure out what to do with this quiet guy with no priors.
Finally, they let him go, and guess what else? While he was in the car, his parents tried to call about eight times to let him know his grandma had died.
All that to say,
“Every annoyance in a relationship is really a two-way street. Partners focus on what they’re getting, not on what they’re giving. But no matter how frustrating a partner’s behavior, your interpretation is the greater part of it. What matters is the meaning you attach to it.”
So, be patient with your partner today. Are you annoyed simply because of what you’re not getting out of the relationship? What can you give instead?