As you are planning your wedding, I know things are so exciting for you right now. Everything is wonderful, she can do no wrong, he is perfect in every way, etc. Sure, there are a few things that “bother” you, but you’re so in love that it doesn’t matter. In fact, that little quirk makes him look cute. But let’s be honest and look down the road 20 years and ask yourself, “Can I really put up with this every day for the next 20 years?” You see, everyone has a quirk, habit, or trait that bothers someone else – chewing with your mouth open, leaving the toilet seat up, not putting the toothpaste cap back on the toothpaste, and on and on. Right now it’s no big deal because the other person goes home at the end of the night and you have time to recover. But, when you are LIVING with this person 24/7, these little quirks can really start to eat at you.
Can you already fill in the blank: When my mate does ____________________________ it really gets on my nerves!
In his book “Love Busters” Willard Harley Jr. talks about steps to avoid driving your mate away with habits or behaviors that you may or may not be aware are bothering the other person. He says that one of the things we often do is NOT say anything because we don’t want to feel like we are changing the other person. But if something that your mate does bothers you, then you need to make it known because if you don’t, it will still bother you, but only bother you inwardly and that will eventually show itself in the way you treat your mate. It can become a source of conflict because the person being annoyed is thinking, “if you loved me, you would change”, while the person with the quirk is thinking, “if you loved me, you would accept me as I am”.
One of the keys to working through this is to “walk a mile in the other person’s shoes”. Whether you are the one being annoyed, or the one that is annoying, you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see what they are seeing. When it comes to the habit or behavior that bothers you, Ask the person a few questions (these are from Dr. Harley’s book as well):
- When did you begin to engage in the behavior?
- When you engage in the behavior, how do you feel?
- When you engage in the behavior, how does your mate feel?
- If you have ever tried to avoid this behavior, how did you do it?
- Are you willing to avoid this behavior?
- Do you (or your mate) have any suggestions that would make the elimination of this behavior more likely?
Everyone can change, but the person has to want to change and there must be a reason for the change. Love for your mate is a good start to change, but the reasons for change have t be valid in order for the change to stick. If your mate changes a behavior just to keep you from nagging, chance are that the change won’t last long. Remember also to not try to make someone change when change is not necessary. Make sure the change you are asking the person to make is something worth changing. Also, don’t forget to remind your mate and yourself that they are loved because often when we ask someone to change, they may see it as rejection. Keep in mind that the effects of your offensive habits are usually not understood until you see your spouse becoming hardened, resentful, or threatening divorce, so make sure that you communicate well before and after the wedding so that you both understand what bothers you about your mate and what they can or cannot change.