by Brenda

Would you believe it if I told you that a 3-year marriage literally has more conflicts than a 10-year relationship would ever have? Or that your spouse is literally going to drive you crazy most of the time? Yep. I will tell you why.

It’s simple. Your spouse is human and humans are not perfect. Like you, your significant other has subconscious habits, things they do or say without much thought. Again, you’re in the same space most of the time, with different cultural backgrounds and sometimes, opposite ideologies or worldviews on issues. So they are bound to slip often.

When you’re living with your partner in a committed union you can easily get irritated by their actions, inactions or reactions. The simple things they do like leaving the bed unlaid, not saying anything during a conversation or shouting at you because you forgot something can get you annoyed.

My partner and I have known each other for 13 years. Yep. 10 years fun, 3 years legal. We’ve seen it all, good times, bad times and extremely devastating periods. There are days we would feel like our love was brewed in heaven, and others where we would both be looking to annul the marriage. When kids come in, it gets worse because it’s double the work. The child is taking so much of your time and one partner can get jealous. Also, you have to fuse both cultural backgrounds to raise the child, and agree at a point what stance or decisions to make for the child.

But loving your spouse should be paramount. It should not come with a bargain. It should be unconditional and come from a good place in your heart.

Note this, your spouse is a part of you just as your child is. You need to accept this reality. The moment you accept it, you will begin to see changes. Take for instance, your child is using a knife as a play toy, or is throwing valuable items in the air or simply refusing to listen to your counsel. You will scold him or her, but you certainly will not say, “You are not my child again, I disown you.” Yes the one you love will drive you crazy, but crazy can be managed.

Here’s how to love an annoying spouse.

1. Treat your spouse like you would treat your child, not beyond reproach but not with disdain. Give him or her the same love, care, patience and kindness you extend to your kids, and you would have a happier life.

2. Snap out of trivial issues. Taking things personal will cost you in the long run. If its not a big deal, let it go.

3. Communicate the part of them that annoys you in a loving way. Tell them, I don’t like it when you rearrange my things, or take toothpaste from where it is placed, or comment about my weight. Chances are, they will compromise for your sake.

4. Have a support system you can talk to. It’s good to talk about things with others to hear what their thoughts are on a given situation. This will broaden your perspective to see how unrealistic or realistic you were in the situation.

5. Understand the motives and real intentions of your spouse. Forgive. If he or she is shouting at you for not taking your medication, then it’s because they care. Putting yourself in his or her shoes can make their actions more bearable.

6. Suggest alternatives that might meet both your needs. If you’re vegan and trying to eat healthy and your spouse is a meat lover and consumes everything, try to make the best out of both worlds.

7. Hurt, disappointment or rejection should not be seen as hate. It’s okay to feel disappointed if he or she is not helping with the chores, but don’t hate them. Hate the sin and love the sinner.

8. Ask yourself what you can do to reduce the irritation. If talking about his or her untidyness will cause conflict, take it upon yourself to make the place tidy. See it as a way to preserve sanity in the home. If your spouse’s weight bothers you, join them exercise.

9. Do the things you love. If your partner spends on the things they love without considering the needs of the home, you are likely to get annoyed seeing them live the life you’ve denied yourself. So spend a little. Go out shopping. Smile. Stay positive. Be grateful.

10. Deal with your own insecurities and self-centredness, don’t project them on your spouse. It’s easy to get frustrated and irritated when you’re tired and overweight. When you’re burned out from work, drinking alcohol or taking it out on your spouse may seem like the only solution. But that is not the way to go. In fact, it only compounds the situation. Your spouse will be hurt and you will likely have a hangover the next morning. So, get the stress out of the way by practising good habits such as exercising, indulging a good book or listening to good music. This can be therapeutic.

11. Remind yourself of all the positive things about your spouse. All the times they’ve been of help and all the good memories you’ve shared. No one marries his or her enemy, so calm down. You will get through this. If your problems run deeper, seek the services of a counselor.

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