How to Deal with Aggravations in Marriage
My husband and I recently had dinner with our friends who are newly married. We were asking them how things were going and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn toward those “little things” that were starting to flare up in their marriage, such as who cooks and who cleans, who snores louder, which one wakes up earlier, who makes the other person late…and the list goes on. My husband and I – who have only been at this marriage thing for one year – looked at each other and chuckled. Why? Because hearing their little quirks and aggravations with each other reminded us of our own when we first started out. For example, one little thing that drove me nuts in our first few months was that my husband would brush his teeth in the living room. Yeah, the living room! He would walk around and brush brush brush as if it was no big deal. For whatever reason, that really started to get under my skin. Needless to say, there were things I did that aggravated him too. For example, when I got out of bed in the morning, apparently my steps were really loud like I was stomping around. I had no idea I was doing it, but it drove Noah up the wall! Other little aggravations I have heard from friends are things like:
- “He leaves the kitchen cabinets open all the time.”
- “She interrupts me constantly.”
- “Wet towels on the bed…seriously?”
- “Can’t he just clean his own dishes?”
Often the challenge in marriage – especially when you’re just starting out – is how to tell your spouse something they do is bothering you. It could be the littlest thing and you have no idea why it bugs you, but it just does. Well, I don’t have it all figured out, but I wanted to share something that we started doing this past year that has done wonders in our marriage. We created a template for a “family meeting” that would take place every other week to give us time not only to connect in an intentional way, but also to check in with each other about various areas of our lives that don’t always naturally come up in conversation, such as sex, spirituality and stewardship. The meeting also entails a time and space to voice the little things that might be bugging you, as well as the things you most appreciate about your partner.
What we try to do is schedule our family meeting every 2 weeks. We put it on the calendar and treat it as a priority. The reason why it has helped us deal with aggravations is because we don’t have to voice them all the time and potentially hurt the other person. When you know that meeting is coming, where there will be a carved out space for you to share anything that is aggravating you, then you can hold onto it and share it at the appropriate time. That way you are both ready for it and you know its coming!
Okay, this may all sound a little cheesy, but we have found it has helped us to keep “short accounts” with each other and be as open and honest as we can, especially about the little things. It keeps us from bottling things up so that our marriage can stay fresh and resentment-free. I can’t tell you how much it means to me when my husband makes the effort to change something he knows aggravates me. And I hope he can say the same about me. We are both committed to meeting each other in the middle and doing what’s best for our relationship, even if that means changing our own little habits here and there.
This little exercise has helped us and blessed us immensely, but it isn’t always easy. Perhaps you and your partner can try it and be blessed (and challenged) by it too. See the template below and make any adjustments to suit your own style.
Feel free to comment with any more questions on how to implement this or with any other strategies that have worked for you and your spouse in strengthening your marriage. We’re all in it together!
Team Kennedy Connect
Family Meeting Agenda:
Start with prayer, asking God to be with you in the meeting and bless your time together.
Dive into the five “A’s”:
(1) Appreciation: What is something or some things you are particularly appreciative of regarding your spouse this week? Any acts of kindness you are grateful for?
(2) Aggravation(s): Are there any irritations or annoyances regarding your spouse’s habits, mannerisms, behaviors that you would like to bring up?
(3) Accountability: Review the following areas regarding your own life and share openly where you’re at with each. Are you struggling with something? Do you need prayer or encouragement? Rate 1-10.
- Spiritual Disciplines: How is your relationship with God? Quality of quiet times? Desire for God, Word, prayer?
- Service: How is your consideration of others? Do you have a servant heart toward your spouse?
- Sex: Are your needs being met? Are you seeking to meet your partner’s needs? Are you connecting physically and regularly?
- Stewardship: How was your spending this week? Did you make any sacrifices that were for the good of the family?
- Self-Care: Are you getting enough sleep? Exercise? Eating well?
- Sin Confession: Are there any areas of sin or temptation you need to confess? What might you need prayer for this coming week?
(4) Action Items: What can you change to improve yourself and strengthen your marriage? (based on above answers)
(5) Admin: To-do’s, home care, grocery, etc.
End with prayer, asking God to help you be faithful to the things you discussed and to give you wisdom and motivation to change the things that would improve your relationship with your spouse and overall quality of your marriage.
Schedule your next meeting together and commit to making it happen.