In Featured, In, Marriage

dirty dishes“I’m shutting the refrigerator door for you …” Nancy Lee said loud enough for me to hear in the next room.

“Again.” She added

“Thanks!” I replied. But I wasn’t sure how thankful I really was. Our fridge requires a little extra attention to actually close the doors, and since I was so well trained on our old model which more or less just closed with a little nudge, I need some extra training which usually comes in the form of Nancy Lee’s reminder.

I know that leaving the refrigerator door open annoys Nancy Lee. So does leaving on a light in an empty room. And socks on the floor. And it was the “again” that let me know that she wasn’t just giving me some information. She was registering her annoyance that she had to close the door for me … again. Let me just say that I certainly don’t like or even want to annoy her. So I want to get past this one. This is a “work area” in our relationship.

Nancy Lee and I are “Frequent Followers” of most of the stuff that Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot offer for Marriage Enrichment. Their books and online resources are terrific and you can find it all here. In a recent post, Les and Leslie highlighted the Top Ten Annoying Behaviors identified in a study done at Louisville University in Louisville, Kentucky. The study focused on 160 married couples and the annoying behaviors that they identified.

Here’s what the study revealed:

“The researchers found that relatively minor unpleasant behaviors appear to affect a partner’s emotions in a way that resembles how physical allergens function. The first experience is likely to produce a small negative reaction, but repeated contact increases sensitivity. Wet towels on the bathroom floor cause mild irritation. But the reaction gets stronger each time it happens.”

Here are some of the most highly ranked annoying behaviors in marriage:

  • Asking your spouse to tell you how you look.
  • Making negative comments about what your spouse is wearing.
  • Packing too many items and suitcases for a trip.
  • Taking too long to get ready to leave the house.
  • Boring your spouse by spending too much time shopping.
  • Nagging.
  • Looking at your phone while talking to your spouse.
  • Being possessive.
  • Spending too much time on the computer.
  • Being bossy.
  • Spending money just to “even the scales.”
  • Using sex as a tool of manipulation.
  • Not picking up after yourself around the house.

That got me thinking about how I add to the “annoyance factor” in our home. And I offer this as a mix of confession and accountability. This is a partial list of the things that could create an annoyance not only for Nancy Lee, but for me as well.

Here’s my partial list:

  • Leaving the fridge door open
  • Not pushing my chair back in when I leave the table
  • Leaving the garage light on after I’ve come in the house
  • Driving Nancy Lee’s car and not filling the tank for her
  • Leaving dishes in the sink (not putting them in the dishwasher)
  • Being the last one out and not making the bed in the morning
  • Leaving wet towels on the floor in the bathroom, or bedroom, or over a chair somewhere

What’s on your list? Do you know what annoys your loved one? Are there things that annoy you about the person you share a home with that you might be guilty of? The bottom line of the Louisville study indicated that the more annoying behaviors we have, the more “de-romanticized” our marriage becomes. And the longer the behaviors continue, the more irksome they become.

So I’m wondering if you’re willing to take a look at your own list. If we’d really love to build a bridge toward our spouse, wouldn’t it be helpful to take a look at the things that create annoyance?

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