How to deal with your partner's annoying habits

Are your partner's habits driving you nuts? Our expert weighs in on when you should say something -- and how to say it.

Recognize your own annoying habits
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3. Lose the idea of "fairness"
Try not to get preoccupied with the idea of "fairness" when it comes to changing bad habits. Henry points out that in her practice couples frequently bring up the notion of fairness. "We look at it almost as a tit for tat kind of situation and we lose sight of the larger picture," she says.

For example, if there are household tasks that your spouse has made a habit of avoiding and the workload has become one-sided, rather than just saying "That's not fair," try looking at it from a broader perspective, Henry advises. Figure out how to divvy things up so that no one feels taken advantage of and everyone is sharing the workload.

4. Be diplomatic
It's important to be reasonable when pointing out to your partner that something about his or her behaviour drives you crazy. "Isolating what it is that's bothering you about a particular behaviour or about somebody's habits is really important because then it's easier for them to understand why it bothers you," says Henry. "If you can put it in the context of how a particular behaviour affects you, you're much more likely to get an empathetic response from your partner."

For example, try explaining that coming home to a sink full of filthy dishes after a long day at work makes you feel even more stressed out rather than just blurting out "You're such a pig." If your partner understands why a certain habit upsets or frustrates you (rather than just feeling attacked) he is more likely to want to try and change.

5. Recognize your own annoying habits
Let's face it: We all have our own bad habits. Once you have tackled your spouse's frustrating habits, it's time to think about your own.

"Recognize your own bad habits. Be honest when a partner says, ‘This drives me crazy,'" says Henry. Ask yourself how the behaviour might be perceived as annoying, or if there is any truth behind what your partner is saying. It's also important to acknowledge when your partner accommodates habits of yours that might be considered off-putting. "Take the time to say thanks. Sometimes that's all it takes to make an annoying habit bearable."

As with most issues that crop up in relationships, communication is the key to working toward a compromise. The more you and your partner can talk about the things that cause tension in your relationship, the easier it will be to move past any issues that arise.

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