Friday, September 15, 2006

The Ugly Truth.

What is this irritated impatience i sometimes feel with the Mister? I don't feel it with anyone else. (I don't spend that much time with anyone else either.) It scares me because it reminds me of the irritated impatience with which my mother treats my father. I refuse to use the "that's what was modeled by my parents" defense. I will not be held hostage by my past. I have broken other generational chains of behavior, why not this one?

I don't show the irritation as often as i feel it, but am i as successful as i think at shielding my emotions? Body language and tone tends to convey more information than we think.

Is this the result of 27 years of togetherness? Why am i so annoyed by the simplest things? What am i punishing him for? Why do his socks and toothpaste mess matter to me? Am i (the dreaded word) controlling? Of what benefit to me is my irritation? I can't help think that something about it must be working for me or i wouldn't do it.

He is a good man. He is smart and funny and has taken damn good care of us. And he craves my approval. Is that why i withhold it? Is it the introvert/extrovert difference? It is true that i am uncomfortable with open displays of emotional need. But i am not unaffectionate. I love hugs and hand holding and... other stuff. Is it about trust?

I hate this about myself. I wish i were a person who could shake it off. And take a deep breath and move on. Actually i wish i were the sort of person that these small things wouldn't bother in the first place.

I have to be honest here, it's not the socks and toothpaste that annoy me. Neither one of us can lay claim to being overly neat. It's things like him shouting for me when he gets home. Turning on the music and/or the radio and then leaving the room. Buying CDs and then never listening to them.

But, anyway, despite my wanting to make a long list so that you can see JUST HOW ANNOYING he really is, none of these things are important. And i don't want to throw my hands up in the air and say, "Well, i guess i'm just a bitch." Because that's the coward's way out.

I would like the answer to my questions though. What i am going to do is keep track of when i am annoyed, and see if that tells me anything. You know, like some people keep a food diary to help them lose weight. I will keep an irritated diary to help me lose annoyance.

I'll get back to you on this.


Bob said...

I hope the list will help. It sounds like an exercise I was asked to complete by my therapist years ago to help me find the triggers for my depression. (I didn't put any effort into it, so it didn't really work for me!! BUT my point is that this seems to be a tried and (somewhat) true method). You know, it seems that people show the worst of themselves to those closest to them. Maybe Emily Post is why strangers get our best behaviour and consequently our spouses our worst. When I find myself irritated at one of my wife's habits, I (try) to stop, calm down and remind myself that that is why I love her and will do so until I die - because she is who she is, warts and all.

Andrea Frazer said...

I agree with Bob. Sometimes we don't want to face issues with ourselves, so we find issues with others (they don't have to be related issues, either.) Sometimes, however, they ARE related issues (the person that bashes gays because they don't want to admit they're gay, etc.) Sometimes it is control. And sometimes the person is truly annoying us. Whatever it is, if we have made the decision that the good outweighs the bad in our spouse, then we have to not just accept the irritating but embrace it and then move on. Only when a person with intense diabetes accepts that they can't eat sugar, not even a tiny bite, will they be on the road to good health. At first it's hard - who doesn't love a doughnut? But when they consistently eat what's right for their bodies and embrace their personal chemistry, they feel better. And at some point, they will walk past the doughnut and not even consider it.

I really do relate to this particular post, hence the long comment. Am I controlling? Hell yes. But I have learned to relinquish most of it for all the good things everyone around me offers. And when that doesn't work, I eat doughnuts. (I am not diabetic, thank god!)

Anonymous said...

I have been with my husband for fifteen years. We have gone trough therapy. Every damn year we have a crisis, I call them the Okay-this-is-it-we-are-finally-calling-it-quits episodes. But we always make it. I know why I snap at him all the time. I snap at him because he loves me, warts and all. And that scares the living shit out of me.Because one of these days he is going to wake up and realise how big of a bitch I really am. Fifteen years of waiting for the other shoe to drop...

Marshamlow said...

Sometimes I feel that the core of why I get so annoyed at my husband about stupid little things is because, he knows those things annoy me yet does them anyways. Is that a control issue?

I feel like it would be nice if he had enough respect for me and my opinion to just stop doing this one little thing. I think for me in the world in general my biggest issue is that sometimes I feel invisible and when he makes me feel that way all the invisibleness I have felt my whole life is exploded on some stupid little insignificant incident. Which causes him to roll his eyes and tell me I have issues. Which further makes me feel marginalized. Just cause I know all that doesn't make me fight with him less either, boy am I dumb.

Anonymous said...

I think it's the people we love most whom we find most annoying because the ego, the part of our minds that gets annoyed, is very threatened by love and tolerance and forgiveness, so it throws up this screen of kneejerk annoyance all the time. Great post.

Josephine said...

Wise woman.

I have been told I'm a bitch so many times, I guess I've just given in to the belief that I am.

I was just thinking about it today, too. I was at Pier 1 shopping, and thinking about what a bitch I can be.

Not exactly the best way to spend a Saturday, eh?

Bobealia... said...

I can relate. I have problems with trust. I push people away. I get annoyed for no real reason.
Um... I don't have any answers either, BUT, I would like to know how the The Annoyingness Diary works for you.

Tracy Helgeson said...

My husband and I had some problems a few years ago and we briefly separated. During that time I saw a therapist and told that I didn't think I loved him anymore. That everything he did annoyed me and I couldn't handle it for the rest of my life. She told me that when the little things start to annoy you, those are like billboards telling you that there is a BIG problem. I am not saying this is always the case, but it sure was for us. Once we resolved our big problems the little annoying habits didn't bother me anymore. Well actually there were still a few, but I asked him to change the ones that really bugged me and he did.

To be fair (I tend to be the bitchy one in the relationship) I offered to change any of my habits that annoyed him. The only thing he could come up with was that he hated it when I put silverware down, instead of up, in the dishwasher. How can I not love a guy who, with so many options, can only come up with that?!

Anonymous said...

Remember those three D pictures--you look at them a little differently and keep staring, and after a little while, you see something you hadn't seen before?
What would happen if, sometime when you start to reflect on the toothpaste or whatever, you focussed on something that you like about him, and you thanked him for it, or gave him a hug for it?
No big self analysis or introspection. Just a change of focus.

Lynnea said...

True to life post. I've often wondered myself why with a guy as great as the one I married, I get annoyed at things that just shouldn't matter. I've wondered if, for me, it's a defense mechanism, I'm going to be annoyed at you so you can't complain about my faults sort of thing. I try to remember all the good stuff instead, I just need more practice at it I guess.

Anonymous said...

The diary is a brilliant idea: I hope it clarifies things for you. I started keeping one in my early 20s and realised after a few months that I only ever wrote in it when I had PMS. The rest of the time, nothing bothered me. Well, duh.

When Ian does something that annoys me I tell him in a way I know will make light of it. Literally just a minute or two ago, he closed the Venetian blinds so they were angled down and not up: I prefer them up, so the streetlights can't peek through the slats and get in my eyes at night, and Ian always closes them the wrong way, just like he always undresses and leaves his clothes in the study before going to the bedroom, and always leaves his towel on my chair after a shower.

When he does something like this I might tell him it upsets me so much, I want to gnash my teeth and tear the very eyes from my head in displeasure. Similarly, if he pulls me up on something I do that winds him up, I find a way of excusing it that doesn't excuse it at all but that makes him laugh. Stupid, but it means these things always end in giggles.

The daft sense of humour is the saving grace in our house. I've had boyfriends and one husband who were so serious, and couldn't be lightened up in these discussions. I think that's why I'm not with any of them any more.

meno said...

That you all knew what i was talking about is a comfort to me. Not one of you said, "Oh, we always get along so well." I always feel like crap when someone says that. Or, actually, i think they are lying.

So thanks to you all for the honest comments.

I want to try my little experiment for a while and report back on the data.

My goal is to not become annoyed, rather than to try and overcome the annoyance. i may laugh at this goal later, we'll see.

Teri M. said...

Well, I'm way late on this, but I know exactly what you mean.