In the weeks following Valentine's Day, couples seem to come undone more than they're brought together.
As the New York Daily News reported, February 14 is one of the year's "expectation holidays," when people put a lot of stock into the behaviour of their partners — or use that date as a "make it or break it" time for decisions about where things are going.
But that doesn't mean it's smooth sailing for those still in relationships either. As anyone who's had a long-term commitment knows, your partner can get on your nerves — but rather than pull the plug, there are ways to make it through together.
"Often in relationships, we get into auto-pilot, and we’re not aware of our annoying stupid habits," says Christina Steinorth, a psychotherapist based in Santa Barbara, and author of Cue Cards For Life.
Steinorth says it's important to identify each other's pet peeves and talk to your partner about them, but to also remember they probably won't be the end of the world.
"You have to put the behaviours in perspective. Is it a big deal if he or she does this at home when no one’s around? You have to keep that in mind first and foremost," she emphasizes.
She also notes there are some relationships that just won't work out, and the best way to tell is when your problems with your partner start to weigh on your mind more than anything else.
"When it starts to hurt the core of who you are, then it’s time to reconsider," says Steinorth.
But for those who are just bothered by terrible table manners or nitpicking about cleaning habits, have faith.
"When we’re in a good relationship, we really try to please one another," she says. "We truly want to make the other person happy."
So what are those common pet peeves found in relationships, and how can they be (at least partially) solved? Read on — and let us know if there are any we missed in the comments below:
"If your partner burps, what you want to do is address the behaviour, and do it at a time when your partner is open to listening to it — relaxed, not stressed from other things," says psychotherapist Christina Steinorth. "Do it in non-confrontational way."
If your partner has a temper and it's causing problems in your relationship, make sure to address it at a time when the anger isn't happening. Steinorth suggests using language like, "Sometimes when you’re angry, it’s hard to communicate with you. You seem to be angry a lot, is it something I do to make you angry with me?" Acknowledging that you might be part of the problem makes it less confrontational, and easier to work toward a solution together.
Rude To Friends
What can you say to a partner who's great to you, but awful to your friends? "You’re a good person, but when you interact with my friends, they don’t see you that way, and it’s important for me for my friends to like you," suggests Steinorth.
This one tends to be a common complaint from men in relationships with women, but nagging can happen from both. Steinorth says you have to tell your partner why the behaviour hurts your feelings, and also stress that it makes you feel good when they're not always telling you what's wrong with you.
Because, as Steinorth points out, couples in good relationships want to make the other one feel special, explaining lateness as an affront can help. "When you catch this," she suggests, "try saying 'when you are late, it makes me feel like I’m not important to you.' They don’t want to make you feel like they don’t love you."
If your partner is showing signs of jealousy, ask them, 'Why is it you feel jealous? Am I doing something that makes you think I would be interested in someone else?' These questions will make your partner stop and think, says Steinorth, noting it’s always good to be self-reflective in a relationship.
Bad Table Manners
This is an instance that Steinorth thinks can be put in perspective — yes, eating with your elbows on the table isn't terribly polite, but it also doesn't really affect you in any way. The most important thing is to choose the right time to mention this irritating habits, and it is never, ever when you're out for dinner with others.
"What people need to realize is each individual is responsible for their own family, and once they get into that mindset, so many problems could be kept at bay," says Steinorth. Her suggestion for putting this discontent into words? "When your family isn’t nice to me or doesn’t treat me right, I find it disrespectful, and I think you need to talk with them." Your partner's loyalty should lie with them. she emphasizes.
"People can get so caught in accusations, they forget to focus on why the problem exists," says Steinorth. She suggests people say, 'I see this as an issue. What can we do to improve it?' This rightly makes it a mutual responsibility — after all, it takes two people to have a dysfunctional communication pattern
The Easy Solution
And what is the best way for couples to demonstrate their commitment, even if things are rocky? "Act loving — even when you don’t feel like it," says Steinorth. "People will always remember how you make them feel, no matter where you’re at in a relationship, so loving actions, like rubbing their shoulders, will go a long way past those pet peeves."