The Secret to Living Together: Get Over It

Your husband has annoying habits. And so do you. You need to get over it and get used to it.

There will always be things that he does around the house that will bother you. And he’ll do them over and over again. That isn’t going to change. Ever. And time is precious these days, so wasting it telling your husband to do the same thing for the 87th time, is unwise.

Why won’t he change? It could be forgetfulness or stubbornness or ego, but it really doesn’t matter. You will lose the battle and the war. So once you realize this is the case, choose another battle.

I went to visit Monica in Miami last year and she told me a story about her husband, Alex. They have two young boys and both parents work, so it’s a busy household. Monica can be demanding and Alex is a kind soul who does a lot of what Monica asks of him. I told her I was working on a book about marriage—this is part of that book—and asked her a bunch of questions.

I found out that both of them do a lot of chores depending on the family schedule. Both, for instance, do the laundry. One day, however, when Monica realized that Alex isn’t very good at folding the laundry, she insisted she would do it. I applauded her for this move—as I say, if you want something done how you want it done, then do it yourself. Then she told me about the stairs.

“When something needs to go upstairs, I leave it on the stairwell and whoever goes upstairs first takes it up with them. That’s the rule. Only Alex never takes it. He’ll walk upstairs and step right over it. Can you believe that? I can’t believe it. I get so angry every time.”

“Really? You get angry every time?” I asked calmly.

“Yes. It’s so annoying. It’s infuriating. Why can’t he just take it up with him?” I can see her getting mad just thinking about it.

“Well.” I pause. “If you put stuff there every time. And he ignores it every time. You getting angry every time doesn’t really seem to be the most effective use of your energy, no?”

She looked at me perplexed.

“But it makes me crazy.” Her agita still rising.

“I know it’s easier said than done, but just let it go. Get over it. It’s not worth it.”

Larry and I have a joke about how getting angry takes a toll on your health. It takes its toll on your heart, your hair, your skin, you name it. When you see an opportunity to avoid the rage, try to do so. Living your life nagging or aggravated is no way to live. There are some things he will never do, live with it.

Another suggestion: laughter is the best medicine, antidote and vaccine. I employ it whenever I can. It is one of the best ways to communicate effectively with your husband and keep the levity. For instance, Larry will open the medicine cabinet, take something out and walk out of the bathroom. The same thing happens in the kitchen. The first dozen times, I closed the cabinet door. But a few times I walked smack into it, bumping my head. I was baffled. Why wouldn’t he close the cabinet door? He opened it after all? It makes no sense. Very odd.

One day, I innocently asked, “Before I moved in, were all the cabinets in the house open all the time?”

“No. Why do you ask?” He said with a smile.

“After you leave the bathroom or the kitchen, I always find one open.”

“Really? Do I forget to close the cabinets? I didn’t even realize.”

And now, after he opens a cabinet, he closes it—not every time, but he does make an effort.

Larry doesn’t throw things out immediately – like plastic bags from the grocery store or the pizza box. He moves them around the kitchen and I often end up throwing them out. He leaves his clothes all over the house. But it’s his house too. I leave a collection of handbags in the foyer. (You know how it is, different outfit, different handbag!) I know it bothers him, but it’s my house too. I also collect shopping bags from my favorite boutiques, I know he’d prefer the space in the closet was used for something else, but he never says anything.

You will both have habits that annoy the other. This is a fact of life. Live with it. Get over it. Laugh at it. These are not important parts of life. Irritating, yes. Important, no.