Love Essentially: Ever get annoyed with your spouse? Sure you do!

Jackie, Why, when people are in a serious relationship, do they sometimes annoy one another to the point where they don’t even want to talk? Is getting annoyed with your significant other common? Is it normal? If you really love someone, is such behavior acceptable?

I actually smiled when I received this e-mail because it’s cute, and sounds like it came from a younger reader who could possibly be referring to the first serious relationship she’s ever been in.

YES! YES! YES! YES, are my answers to these questions. Becoming annoyed with your significant other to the point of not wanting to speak to him or her is completely common and normal. Even the happiest of couples bug each other, at times.

I can remember being in my twenties, having an argument with my then boyfriend that ended in a period of silence, and feeling like it was the end of the world. The tears would stream down my face and my heart felt like it hurt.

Now, in my 40s, if I have an argument with my guy, or during the times when we become so annoyed with one another that we actually prefer to be in separate rooms, I just kind of do my own thing until things get back to normal. I know that in time — whether it’s 15 minutes or two hours — that the two of us will get over whatever is annoying us, move on, and enjoy being with each other again.

I don’t think it would be normal NOT to have times where each person needs space. Even my own children, who I love more than anyone on this planet bug me at times, and vice versa.

A couple only has a problem if the times of annoyance and not speaking become frequent. If the bad times start to outweigh the good times, then Houston, we have a problem.

As my older sister, a well-educated physician puts it so eloquently, “If it ain’t fun, I’m done!”

But if at certain times, two people who love each other need some silence between them, I don’t see any serious issues. If the couple has a happy, healthy relationship, they will come back to one another after a little while, and it will be like nothing happened.

I’m not saying that if something is bothering you, just be silent, let time pass, and then it will be ok. Being open, honest and communicative is key for a good, healthy relationship. So, by all means, if you have an issue with your spouse, speak up. But sometimes, couples just bug each other. It’s as simple as that.

Here are five tips to cope with silence that stems from annoyance:

1. Give you spouse some freedom. Ask your spouse if there’s anything you can say or do to make things better. If the person says, “no,” and prefers not to talk, respect that. In other words, don’t push and continue to ask if he or she wants to talk. Once is enough.

2. Don’t take it personally. Realize that he or she might have had a bad day, and that you annoying him or her might not have anything to do with you. A bad day at work, an argument with a family member, or a financial problem are all outside factors that could cause someone to be silent.

3. Try not to get angry. Anger is pointless and will only aggravate the situation more.

4. Take advantage of the alone time. Read a book or watch a movie you know he or she wouldn’t want to watch.

5. Let your spouse know you still love him or her. That means a lot. People are far from perfect and they have a need to know that when they show a less attractive side of themselves that they are still loved and wanted.

Living together, or spending a significant amount of time with someone — even the person you love most in the world is no piece of cake. Ask my parents. They have been married for 55 years, which probably explains why they have multiple TVs in their home!

Have a question about your love life or a story you’d like to share? E-mail Love Essentially! Jackie@loveessentially.com. All questions and comments are anonymous!

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