Is Your Spouse Getting On Your Last Damn Nerve? Maybe That’s A Good Thing

by Christine Organ

My husband annoys the crap out of me sometimes.

He has this super annoying habit of leaving his dirty socks all over the house. I find them in the middle of the living room floor, next to the bed, and in between the couch cushions. Everywhere except in the laundry. He also forgets to put the toilet seat down and doesn’t push his chair in after he leaves the table. He snores. Loudly.

I’m no angel either, to be sure. I annoy the crap out of my family with my Facebook habit (er, addiction) and in my quest to “straighten up,” I often hide my husband’s stuff away and then can’t remember where I put his things. I can be impatient and cranky AF when I have PMS or am hangry, and my workout clothes stink to high heaven.

Socks on the floor notwithstanding, my husband is a rockstar husband, a devoted father, and an all-around kick-ass human. He is loving, generous, and smart as a whip. And I think he’d say the same about me. We have a great relationship, and I genuinely like him as much as I love him.

For the most part, these little annoyances we have with each other are just that — little. Yet, every once in a while, usually after I’ve read some article about how a husband’s divorce was caused by dishes not put in the dishwasher, I’ll wonder if these little things are actually big things.

Do my husband’s socks mean that he doesn’t respect me and our home? Does my lack of focus mean that I’m uninterested in my husband and our family? Should I be more upset about these little transgressions and annoyances? Should he?

The answer is a resounding no.

The socks on the floor don’t necessarily mean a lack of respect or appreciation for me and our home, nor are they an indication of some bigger issue in our relationship — just like my unintentional “hiding” of things doesn’t indicate some bigger problem either. I just put things in places and then forget.

Still, I’ll fret and wonder for a little while about whether these pesky little things spell out trouble for our relationship before realizing that each relationship is different. These things might be a big issue for someone else, but they aren’t anything more than an occasional annoyance for us. Sometimes socks on the floor are just socks on the floor. Sometimes stinky clothes are just stinky clothes.

These make-me-want-to-stab-a-fork-in-your-eye annoyances aren’t necessarily a sign of trouble in the relationship, but rather a sign that we are human, that we feel comfortable in our space and with our partner, and there’s nothing more to it than that. In fact, according to relationship expert Kira Asatryan, getting on each other’s nerves now and then is the sign of a healthy relationship because it’s a sign of comfort, vulnerability, and realness with each other — but you aren’t too comfortable.

As they say, the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. Conflict isn’t necessarily the problem, but withdrawal from and indifference to your partner is a big red flag. If your wife’s loud chewing and your husband’s inability to remember to fill the car up with gas makes you want to spit nails, at least you still care, right?

Of course, if you’re annoyed all the time about all the things, you might want to check the vitals of your relationship. There have definitely been times in our almost two-decade relationship when my husband and I have had to do just that, but working through those issues and frustrations with each other has always made us stronger thus far, as individuals and as a couple.

For instance, I have a really hard time not interrupting my husband in the middle of a conversation. I don’t mean to be rude, but my mind flitters away really fast and my mouth is just trying to keep up with my brain and I have things to say. My husband pointed out this super annoying habit of mine a while ago and I’ve been trying really hard to just keep my damn mouth shut while my husband is talking. (Okay, so he’s pointed it out several times, but change is hard, y’all.)

“The goal of relationships should not be to eliminate all frustrations with one’s partner,” wrote Asatryan in Time. “Instead, a better goal might be to recognize annoyance for what it is — a sign that you’re being yourself, a sign that you still feel, and a sign that things could be better — and use it as a tool to grow together.”

My husband and I have been together for nearly 18 years, happily married for more than 13 of them, and we’ve been annoying the crap out of each other through it all. Turns out, the fact that I want to burn every single one of my husband’s socks sometimes and have abysmal listening skills doesn’t mean there’s something wrong. These things aren’t just normal — they’re also healthy.

So I pick up the socks and put down the toilet seat, albeit with an exasperated sigh. My husband ignores my Facebook addiction and keeps his mouth shut about the workout clothes stinking up the bathroom. And we remain happily married, trying not to sweat the small stuff. As it turns out, slightly annoyed is just the new “I love you.”