One of the biggest relationship irritations that affects more couples than we care to think about is when one or both people in the relationship don’t feel like they can say what’s on their mind to their partner.
They do what we call “talk on eggshells” and this is similar to the idea you’ve probably heard before called “walking on eggshells.”
If you are “walking on eggshells,” you are trying very hard not to upset someone.
Remember that an eggshell has a hard shell on the outside but also breaks very easily.
Just like some communication challenges that may trigger you.
One or both of you may carry around hard “shells” and communication breaks down very easily.
If your marriage could be described in a similar way, it sure is a recipe for upsets, feeling separated and disconnected.
If you want more love in your life, it’s time for you to take action to deal with your relationship issues.
Here’s a question from person who’s very irritated with her spouse–as well as our answer to her…
***QUESTION FROM A READER:
“How do you keep from getting irritated at your spouse you’re living with to the point where you’re not thinking of leaving?”
Although none of us likes it when it happens…
It’s pretty normal to be irritated by those closest to us.
We get irritated because that person doesn’t see the world the same way we do.
He or she doesn’t act or speak the way we would or we expect.
If you’re constantly thinking about leaving, we’re guessing that you are irritated (and more) with your partner most of the time.
Whether you show your irritation or not–which can come in all sorts of behaviors (from the “cold shoulder” to ridicule to anger)– the other person always knows.
He or she usually feels like they can’t do anything “right.”
We might think we’re covering it up but we never can and that irritation pushes us further apart–creating an even greater separation than was there before.
But just try to stop being irritated with someone when you really are.
Pretty difficult, we know.
No matter how hard you try not to get irritated, it usually doesn’t work and you end up making the whole thing bigger than it needed to be.
Your irritation can be triggered by something as insignificant as the person’s eating habits or as big as feeling unloved and unappreciated.
So if it’s difficult to stop being irritated when you’ve got that pattern going, what do you do?
We’ve had a great time studying the work of Byron Katie, author of many books including Loving What Is.
We won’t go into detail here about her work but we will say that her process “The Work” has helped us to get to the place where we see through our “irritations” with others for what they really are–mirrors of what we need to see in ourselves.
We’ll explain what we mean with a story…
Otto went to see a movie with his 20 year-old son last night. After the show, as they walked to the car, Otto realized 3 things…the passenger side window was half-way down, it had been raining and the interior was probably wet and his car had been ransacked.
Although nothing had been stolen, Otto became irritated with his son for leaving the window down–as well as all the other instances when his son had been irresponsible in the past few weeks.
He was irritated until he remembered something very important.
He remembered to use the situation as a mirror.
He asked himself when he had been irresponsible–and even in this instance, he could see that he could have checked the windows himself before locking the car.
He could even remember other times when he had forgotten to do things that proved to be problems later.
Without beating himself up, he just noticed how, at times, he had been irresponsible in the past.
Of course, that doesn’t really let his son off the hook.
He still could have remembered to make sure his window was up.
But what it did do was take away Otto’s blame and anger as he just accepted what happened–and he stayed connected to his son as they talked about the situation.
In telling this story, do we mean to “excuse” all sorts of behavior of others and simply put up with it?
Not at all.
Sometimes there are major trust issues and agreements that have been broken that must be dealt with and we recognize that.
Our point is that when irritations with others come up, it’s a flashing red light to focus on what we need to look at in ourselves–and it might include looking at some action we need to take.
It means noticing the source of your irritation and what thoughts come up when you are in the middle of those feelings.
It means using those thoughts as a way to look in the mirror and see what’s there for you to look at.
So if you’re finding that your partner irritates you, just take one of those points of irritation and play with it.
It may be that you are irritated at what he’s doing because there are words that you want to say that you haven’t been able to say– that have nothing to do with the reason you are irritated.
It may be that your irritation is a way to keep you separated from him.
What Otto found was that when he made his discoveries about his irritation with his son, he let go of judgements–and he could feel connected with him again.
Isn’t this what it’s all about?