There are four different categories of habits that can challenge a marriage
So Annoying! How to live with your spouse’s irritating habits
Abby Delouya BA, BEd, RMFT-CCC
"He was perfect when we were dating, and now I can’t stand some of the things he does. I feel bad, but my husband’s habits cause me to feel so irritated at times. Help!”
Most likely, your spouse didn’t trick you into marrying him. When we’re dating, things look rosy. Then reality hits. There are four different categories of habits that can challenge a marriage:
Inconsiderate habits: leaving clothes and towels on the floor, (or hats and jackets everywhere), being late with no excuse or apology, finishing food or drink items and putting back the empty box.
Sloppy habits: leaving dirty dishes on the table, chewing loudly/talking with food in mouth, nail/skin biting, general hygiene deficiencies.
Relationship habits: constantly looking at the phone, especially when spending quality time as a couple, holding back information/failure to communicate.
Controlling behavior: dictating how everything needs to be done around the house, nitpicking about how a partner dresses, drives, cleans, or cooks.
It’s important to remember that we all have different sensitivities; what bothers you may not be remotely upsetting to your spouse. We all have different tolerance levels, especially for things like mess and noise. Because you’re different people with different upbringings and experiences (yeshivah dorming, anyone?) there will be unwitting irritations. How should you deal with them?
- Determine what’s the actual annoyance. Maybe you’re stressed at work, and the empty juice carton was #324 on the list of irritations that day — and your spouse is a far easier target for your stress release than your boss. Maybe it’s not the towels on the floor, but the fact that you cleaned for two hours after the cleaning lady unexpectedly canceled?
- Communicate. If you don’t gently share your sensitivities early on, they can become suffocating, leading you to lash out in anger months later. Perhaps your standards of cleanliness or expectations are too high or maybe your style is too much of a departure from what your spouse is used to. Having the conversation will at least allow for insight and compromise.
- Timing. Have this conversation when your spouse is receptive. That means not when he’s walking in the door, hungry, and tired, nor when you’ve already shared several concerns with him. We sometimes erroneously believe I might as well share everything that annoys me at once, let’s just get this over with. However, sharing every annoying thing that occurred in the past month or year or decade can feel utterly overwhelming and hurtful, and your spouse may shut down or defensively retaliate.
- Make loving suggestions and avoid harsh criticism. Keeping requests and suggestions respectful is a more effective way to get your needs met, and maintain your shalom bayis.
- Try it their way. Maybe his more relaxed style can be liberating.
- Make a gratitude list that focuses on the positive qualities of your spouse. Thinking about your spouse as part of yourself or the two of you as a united team can help. In sports, each one has a position to play, and sometimes we have to “take one for the team” in order to win the relationship championship.
Please note that this advice applies to typical annoying habits, not addictions, abuse, or anything else that’s a significant problem in a marriage.
Abby Delouya is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice with a specialty in trauma and addiction. Abby lives in Monsey, NY, and maintains her practice in Canada.
The Biggest Financial Mistake
You may know that life insurance is important, but have you or your husband purchased a policy? Delaying that can be a big financial mistake.
Where to start? The best consumer is an educated one, so before you meet with a life insurance agent, it helps to know the basics.
There are many different life insurance “products,” but the most famous are term and whole life (runners-up include Universal Life and Variable Universal Life). Term insurance is the cheapest, but it only insures a person for a “term” of time such as 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. When you apply for term insurance, you choose the amount of coverage (death benefit), and how long you want the coverage to last.
On the other hand, whole life insurance covers your whole life. Unlike term insurance, whole life allows you to stop paying premiums eventually and also build “cash value” within the policy that can be withdrawn or borrowed. But buyer beware: Whole life premiums are far more expensive than term premiums, and sometimes all the bells and whistles aren’t simply worth it.
Your insurance premium (how much you pay per year) is primarily based on your age and health. Getting term insurance when you’re newly married can be much smarter than waiting until you’re in your thirties. Also, being in great health means you’ll pay less. Keep in mind — premiums for smokers are very expensive, so if your husband smokes, try to help him quit a few months before applying for coverage.
The most important question you’ll need to answer is how much insurance you want (called the “death benefit”). The beneficiary of the policy receives the death benefit upon the insured’s passing. There are many ways to figure out how much insurance is right for you — ranging from your agent doing a financial analysis to simply applying for as much coverage as you can afford. For example, as an investment advisor that works with widows, investing $500,000 from a deceased spouse’s insurance policy and producing an annual return of $50,000 is much more difficult than producing $50,000 from a $1,000,000 life insurance policy.
Sara Glaz is an investment advisor and financial planner at The Munk Wealth Management Group in Cedarhurst, New York.
Love = Respect
Esther Goldstein, LCSW
True love is about respect more than anything else.
Respect is the best foundation for demonstrating our feelings. Imagine I like giving gifts and writing long letters. If my partner values quality time and wants to connect by going out with me, and instead I write a long love note and buy a big gift, that isn’t love. If I want him to feel loved, I'd respect his preference, and carve out time when I can fully connect rather than giving him what I like.
When investing in close relationships, lead with respect, then follow with love. This is true with our children as well. When they feel we respect them, they’ll be so much more open to our input and love.
Esther Goldstein LCSW is an anxiety and trauma specialist who runs a group practice called Integrative Psychotherapy & Trauma Treatment in the Five Towns, Long Island, New York. Esther also has a trauma training program for therapists.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 776)
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