It is astonishing how we empower seemingly minor and inconsequential habits to trigger great havoc in our relationships. King Solomon in his wisdom calls it “the little foxes that spoil the vine”. It’s time to strap those miniature destructive foxes and be in control of our lives”
If being unorganized means leaving the bathroom floor wet after bath, eat on the bed while watching TV, throw my shirt carelessly
(sometimes) in the wardrobe, making noise very early in the morning when my mate’s sleeping etc, then I am abundantly gifted in that section. And if relationship and marriage is all about attacking me about these habits every day, there will be tension all or most of the time. Bad habits like controlling attitude, nagging, chewing fingernails, chomping gum, coming late to appointments, blowing one’s nose at the dinner table, cursing, etc have led to the breakdown of many homes and it’s creating tension in many as I write. I have read and seen how disgusting behaviors have sapped the happiness in families and scare some men from going home until the wives are asleep. Are relationships about constantly fixing up your mate? If they were messed up, why did you choose to be with them? I agree that your mate has some irritating behaviors and they have to be confronted. I am interested in how you are gonna do this without causing a friction. The following points will help you achieve this.
DON’T BE SELFISH
In your haste to change or correct your mate, you have to first discover that you aint perfect yourself. You’ve got to tell yourself
that perhaps your habits bother them too and maybe they are not attacking you because they are more matured about it. 2face Idibia puts it perfectly when he said “you no holy pass my brother”. Now you have to let this truth dawn on you prompting the mild, gentle and forgiving side of you to thrive. We can’t be reasonable when we are wrapped in self righteousness saying our mate is “shitty” and we are not.
Also, humans compartmentalize habits as good or bad because of our perception and it doesn’t necessarily mean they are. In other words, we see things as WE ARE and not as THEY ARE. It’s time to rest the weight of self righteousness and your age-long perception of things and embrace simple qualities like understanding, patience, politeness, forgiveness. If you want to change someone, you gotta change yourself first. Turn the table around with your mate sitting in your seat while you are in theirs. HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE TREATED? Do you wanna be treated as a kid who gets spanked at the slightest mistake or you would prefer a little understanding and tenderness? I am not creating room for bad habits to thrive. I want to awaken a lover’s humaneness in you, which could have been trampled in your relationship by self righteousness, anger, frustration, and bitterness. When the above
qualities are introduced, we can commence a journey to helping our partner surrender their irritating habits without causing a friction otherwise, the journey will be futile.
THE EFFECT OF A TENDER REQUEST
A gentle answer deflects anger But harsh words make temper flare Proverbs 15:1(NLT)
Sometimes it’s hard to hold down a temper when your partner repeats a habit. It is unhealthy and dangerous to pretend you are okay with it too. You will have to confront him/her but how you do it matters a lot. Until recently, I never knew that leaving the bathroom floor wet after bath was an annoying habit. I enjoy my bath a lot and care less about the floor. After all, it will be mopped or dry up soon. But here are the words that alerted me. “Baby, the bathroom floor is always wet when you use it. I dunno how you do it but I am scared to go in there after you use it because I could fall.” That’s it!!! I quickly apologized and purposed in my heart to do better in the future. Although I still wet it a little less, I am trying my best. Imagine if it were a cynical, commanding, disdainful and angry voice that alerted me the first time. Except I am in a good mood, it’s gonna flare my temper and set me on the defensive.
Sometimes your partner is oblivious of his/her bad habits. Your first reaction determines if they are gonna relinquish it with or without a fight. Rather than scream, yell and attack, sit your mate down in a place where there are no distractions and then, in a sincere and kind tone, let them know that their attitude puts you in harm’s way or annoys you. Often times, a gentle, nice, loving tone produces a favorable effect.
Don’t ever underestimate the effect of solidarity in a tension. If for instance, your partner is in the habit of dressing provocatively
triggering embarrassing comments at the mall, don’t run off or make statements like “I have told you”. Reserve the sermon for yourselves at home. One lesson I learned in the movie, FIREPROOF is to never leave your partner in the fire. This is the time to stand strong by her and tell those nosey individuals to mind their business. Actions like this reassure your mate and send the message that you love them regardless of their habits and are eager to protect them. When people get to this point in a relationship, change is near because it’s a place of trust; they can now listen to your suggestions and judgments of them. Running away or making demeaning statements in public places about your mate’s habits is an adolescent behavior because when you choose to love someone, you love them with their strength and flaws. You stay put until the flaw disappears and the strength hits the skies.
GIVE UP YOUR PESKY HABIT FIRST
You already know you are not the perfect image of a Hollywood mate right? With that in mind, ask your partner what habits turns them off about you (they can tell/write it in the order of worst to bad). Relinquish your pesky habit without asking him/her to do same. Promise them that you will make that sacrifice and be committed to it. When your mate sees your commitment to being a better person for them, they will be very willing to make sacrifices too. Sometimes the reason why people don’t change is because we try to remove the speck in their eyes and glorify the logs on ours. We have all forms of excuses for our habits but want them to give up theirs. Is that fair? Also, suggesting a trade-off (I give up a habit while you do same) is a very selfish way of telling someone to lose a couple of needless habits. It’s more honorable to make those sacrifices without expecting anything in return.
APPRECIATE EFFORTS NOT SUCCESSES
When a person is trying to give up a pesky habit, it is a mate’s responsibility to encourage him/her and not ridicule when they
struggle sometimes. The truth is that habits are part of us and breaking away is not often easy. When your partner relapses, restrain
yourself from any form of attack or ridicule. Acknowledge the fact that you notice their effort and stay positive that they can make it.
We thrive better on appreciation than on criticism. “Baby I appreciate the fact that you’re putting so much effort into overcoming smoking” doesn’t cost you and the relationship anything at all. But words like “liar! I knew you can never give up smoking. You were only pretending.” will sap the remaining energy in your mate to go on. Don’t wait until the habits are completely gone before you appreciate, acknowledging the little efforts they put in daily will add up to their success.
BE FRANK – TELL IT AS IT IS
Every personal, intimate relationship thrives on open, frank communication. It doesn’t matter if your partner is uncomfortable with
it; you gotta to say how you feel because it is unhealthy not to. Relationships that do not have these moments are built on lies. The
reason why most open communications have adverse effects is because it sounds in the ears of their partner as spiteful threats or lectures. Sometimes it sends a signal that your mate has been 100% annoying or they have never done anything honorable. This is so because of our choice of words. Open communication is about how the actions of your partner make you feel and not about what they should do ACT – That’s their decision. Also, applaud your partner in areas they do well while you are busy downloading your hurt. It will be well accepted. Please don’t give in to the temptation of lecturing and fixing up your partner in such moments or even threatening and giving ultimatums. When you do that, you may get a negative outcome to open conversations.
I suggest that couples should have planned moments of frank/honest talk intermittently to assess their actions and growth over a period of time. You can call it OUR PARLIAMENT; a place/time that every voice is important and every point valid. When such moments are well done and fruitful, couples will long for the moments. Speaking is important. I know this too well.
Again these words are worthy of repeating. “It’s astonishing how we empower seemingly minor and inconsequential issues to trigger great havoc in our relationships. King Solomon in his wisdom calls it “the little foxes that spoil the vine”. It’s time to strap those miniature destructive foxes and be in control of our lives”
Colyns Agboju is a writer, journalist, blogger, producer, TV/Radio Host and relationship therapist. He blogs at dearagbocol.blogspot.com