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Why Do We Annoy Each Other?

Soul Mates

Being in a relationship often is like looking in the mirror. We see things in ourselves that we didn't see before. Sometimes this can be difficult, but it's our best opportunity for growth.

You might think you know what bothers your spouse. But sometimes things that were unacceptable in your house when you were growing up might be of no consequence to your spouse. And habits that went unnoticed when you were growing up might greatly bother your spouse.

When Mary was growing up, there was a strict rule in her house that the breakfast dishes had to be washed before she left the house in the morning. A pile of dirty dishes at the end of the day was unacceptable to her mother. Anyone who did not clean his or her dishes early in the day would be punished. Mary always hated this rule and vowed that when she was married and had her own home she would leave the dishes until after dinner. Mary assumed that the pile of dirty dishes bothered her husband, Joe, and felt guilty about it every single day. In reality, Joe never gave it a second thought.

Marriage Q & A's

Q: Are successful marriages conflict-free?

A: No. All couples, even happily married ones, have arguments. The difference is that successful couples resolve their conflicts well.

However, there was something Mary did that really bothered Joe. When the phone rang during dinner she would always answer it. Most of the time she would not talk long, but Joe considered it a rude interruption of their mealtime together. He never said anything to her about it. However, they often had arguments about insignificant things later in the evening. Mary never even realized that answering the phone during dinner annoyed her husband.

It's very important to communicate with your spouse when something is bothering you. It's also important not to make assumptions about what is important to your spouse. Otherwise, you might waste your time doing something you think your spouse cares about, when in reality he or she doesn't even notice!

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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