When you were dating, your main man presented his best self. But now that you've tied the knot, he's set aside his suave ways in favor of storing his socks by the bedside and leaving his hair in the sink. "You're not putting your best face on or cleaning the house because your partner is coming to visit," says Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. "Once you live with someone, your habits emerge: If you hate to do dishes or don't mind being sloppy; if you like to stay up late; if you like to sleep with the lights on. You're much more exposed to all of the annoying things that were never in your face before." Here's how to love them in spite — or in the face of — those annoying traits.
Figure out why the habit annoys you so much.
When you trip over your husband's misplaced shoes, your annoyance may not be directed at his kicks or him. The act could "remind you of someone else and whatever happened in that relationship that hurt you," points out Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. "It may also be about a belief system the person learned as a child that hasn't really been examined for whether it still fits today." If you realize the annoyance isn't about your husband at all, you can work to not let it affect your relationship.
Ask: What am I willing to do to stop getting annoyed?
Greer says it's important to determine not only how annoying certain habits are, but also to "figure out what you're prepared to do to make things more comfortable yourself," she says. For example: "If he never does dishes, decide if you're happier with dirty dishes in the sink or just doing them yourself. Then have a talk with him about balancing the responsibilities between you both."
Focus on what he does right.
No, you'll never love the way he leaves crumbs behind on the kitchen table. But "when you're faced with the annoying habit, you can choose to think of something else your partner does that you find wonderful," says Doares. "You can actually say to yourself, 'I don't much care for this, but it isn't as important as what my partner brings to my life.'"
Talk to him about his habits.
You can kindly bring up the behaviors to your guy, saying, "'You do this a lot and I find it really annoying. What's the best way for us to deal with this?'" suggests Greer. "Instead of nagging him to change all the time, have an honest conversation and come up with a plan to make your lives better."
And remember: "Living with someone can be as challenging as you want to make it," Doares points out. "If you are willing to make room for your partner's way of doing things most of the time, they will be more likely to be open to requests for things that are really difficult for you. If everything your partner does annoys you, you might want to examine if there is something deeper going on that hasn't been addressed in a satisfactory way."