I find this book (“Side by Side” by Jo Lamble & Sue Morris) so useful and straight forward that it doesn’t require any comments or additions. There it is – another take-home message:
‘Hierarchy of irritating behaviours:
- Think of the five most irritating things your partner does. Rank them in order from least to most irritating.
- Accept that it is your problem that they irritate you.
- Starting with the least irritating behaviour, see how long you can ignore it. It may help to use clear thinking to challenge the thoughts that lead to your irritation.
- If you can let go of the least irritating behaviour, start work on ignoring the next behaviour on the hierarchy.
- When you get to the point that the behaviour can no longer be ignored, because you can’t change the thoughts that are making you feel irritated, tackle the issue with your partner. If you have accepted that it is your problem, the discussion should not seem like an attack.’
‘It might be useful to work out ahead of time a realistic thought that helps you rise above your irritation. Useful questions to ask yourself are:
- Does X really matter in the scheme of things?
- Are there any benefits in not tackling this issue now?
- What do I have to lose if I choose to pick a fight about X?’
- You need to accept each other – warts and all.
- Personalities strengthen with age.
- Relationship success can be related to an ability to develop acceptance and tolerance.
- Clear thinking reduces the effects of warts.
- If there is abuse involved, it is not okay.
- Pick your fights.’
The lighter side…
Q. Was there anything about your partner that used to attract you, but now irritates you?
A.1. I liked the fact that he knew so much about sport. Now that seems to be all he knows.
A.2. I liked the fact that he used to weigh more than me.
A.3. I can’t think of anything that didn’t always irritate me.
A.4. I found him to be troubled, angry and brooding. That was attractive to me until I realised that I was married to a moody bastard.
A.5. I used to like it that she was so chatty and now she never seems to shut up.
A.6. She was so capable. I now find her emasculating.
A.7. She told this joke really well and I loved that. Twenty years later, she is still telling the same joke and it’s not funny anymore.
A.8. I was attracted to the fact that he wasn’t such a boy like other boyfriends had been. I have to laugh now that he hides from the handyman I have had to call to fix things around the place.
A.9. I loved her femininity, but I hate living in a pink-laced palace.
A.10. He’s so relaxed that sometimes it’s hard to get him moving.
A.11. I used to like the fact that she wasn’t a neatness freak like my mother. Now I just wish I could find my shoes.
A.12. She used to look so well rested. Now I know why!