Dealing with Our Spouse’s Quirks

Spouse's quirks - AdobeStock_170067694 copyAre you having a difficult time dealing with your spouse’s quirks? Or perhaps you find them endearing; it’s a part of them that you wouldn’t change. Wherever you land on this issue, one thing is true… most all of us have to deal with our spouse’s quirks at one time or another. And they have to deal with ours. That’s because we all have them.

It’s true what Drs Les and Leslie Parrott say about this matter:

“Sometimes when we’re dating our future spouses, we can be blind to their odd or quirky behaviors. But once we’ve settled into everyday married life, those quirks grab our attention, full-force. They grate on our nerves.”

Living With Our Spouse’s Quirks

That certainly is what happened to us. There were so many little things that didn’t seem to be an issue before we married. But these little quirky habits sure became issues afterward. We’re talking about things like eating habits, driving habits, cooking styles, even laundry habits, etc. What once seemed to be “cute” wasn’t so cute any longer. And then there were others that we didn’t know about beforehand, or we hadn’t noticed them. These quirky irritations drove us to distraction and were the center of a lot of stupid arguments. It’s like what Janis Lesli Evans wrote:

“Sometimes little annoyances add up, tip the scale, and create conflict and distance. Those little annoyances, often referred to as ‘quirks,’ can make living with your spouse a bit of a challenge. These oddities or foibles endear us to them but can also cause them to get on our last nerve. A quirk is defined as an idiosyncrasy or deviation. The interesting thing is that each spouse’s quirk is defined through the eyes of the other spouse. The offending spouse may not see the behavior as a problem at all.” (From her article, “How to Live with My Partner’s Annoying Quirks”)

Now please note that we’re not talking about abuse issues here, or lazy, impolite habits. We’re talking about little idiosyncrasies that are unique to that spouse.

Steve and I didn’t consider that our own quirkiness would be a problem until it was pointed out to us as such. That goes along with some advice that the Parrott’s give that we’ve found to be true, as well:

Be Creative

“The first thing you need to remember is that quirky habits are unconscious. We don’t realize we’re doing them (and we definitely don’t realize we’re annoying anyone else). Being blind to our quirks is blissful because we don’t have to understand how our oddities come off to others.

“If your spouse has quirks that get under your skin, it’s common to have a strong urge to ‘help’ them eliminate these quirks. But this is destructive for both you and your spouse. Instead, you’re going to want to empty yourself of the need to change them. When you release yourself from trying to change your spouse’s behavior, that behavior can actually turn out to be something that endears them to you. We know it sounds strange, especially if this is a habit that makes you want to scream right now. But trust us—you’ll be surprised at the dramatic shift you see when you stop trying to be in control of the things that annoy you.” (From their article, Creative Ways to Approach Your Spouse’s Quirkiness)

Our Quirks

Here are a few of our quirky habits that we’ll confess to you. First, I (Cindy) will tell a few of mine. I admit openly (now) that I am a “closer.” I don’t like things to go uncompleted for very long. Sometimes this can drive Steve a bit crazy. (This is a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much!) Time and again, Steve thinks I’m too hyper about finishing projects, especially when it’s getting late. He is known for saying, “That’s good enough” or “just finish that in the morning.” But then he looks at me and knows that isn’t good enough for me. He’ll either help me finish the project or ask me, “What can I do to help?”

Sometimes I will wait until the morning, or I’ll take him up on his offer. I sure love that man for letting me be me… quirks and all.

Steve also works around my “no knife left laying on the counter rule.” We wash them and put them away. There’s also the “no TV remote or anything like that laying on my Bible” rule. I put my Bible away and then it no longer becomes a problem for us. And then there’s my “put an old, clean sheet on the bed before you clean out your dresser drawers or empty out a suitcase on the bed” rule too. To work this one out, I sometimes put the sheet on the bed, and sometimes Steve does. So all in all, we’ve worked this out between us.

The Other Quirky Spouse

A quirk I (Steve) have had “forever” is that when I brush my teeth I let everything in my mouth (toothpaste, saliva, excess food, small animals, etc.) just run down my hand, my arm, my elbow and run into the sink. To say this grossed Cindy out is an understatement. Anytime she would see this she would start gagging. Over the years I’ve tried changing my brushing routine but have always gone back to what seems natural to me. My defense for this has been that every time I get a dental check-up I get praised for my oral hygiene habits. Eventually Cindy realized she couldn’t change me. So we came to the conclusion that she just couldn’t be in the bathroom when I was brushing. Problem solved.

One more quirk of mine is that whenever I wash the dishes after dinner I have a routine (I think was God inspired) where I would wash the glasses first. The bowls and plates are next. Then the silverware and finally the pots and pans are last. If anyone would try to sneak a greasy pot or pan into the water while I was still on glasses or plates they got my (stern) lecture on how this is totally inappropriate behavior. They never actually thanked me. But I think secretly they were happy they learned the “right” order for washing dishes. Thankfully, we’ve worked this issue out in a way that makes both of us happy.

Note from Cindy:

I used to get upset about his controlling nature on this dish issue. And then all of a sudden I woke up and thought, why fight it? If he insists on his system, that’s fine; I’ll just let him do them all by himself. He washes and I dry. It works great for us whenever he does help with the dishes. F.Y.I. … I wrote a blog concerning quirkiness. You can read it by going into this link: Quirkiness and Loving Funniness.

Sharing Quirky Information

Those examples are just a few of the (many) quirks that we’ve worked out between us. We’d love it if you would share below in the comment section a few of yours that you have worked out together. It can be so helpful to learn from one another. It’s the “live, learn, and pass it on” principle.

One scripture that comes to mind is that we are to “bear with one another.” The Bible also tells husbands to “live with your wife in an understanding way.” This is true as it pertains to wives living with husbands too. Marriage is all about marrying each other’s approaches to everyday living. That way we can live together in loving, honoring, and respectful ways. And that includes learning to bear with one another’s quirks.

“Because of the love that is within us by God’s Holy Spirit, we make allowances for each other rather than judge each other. … ‘Making allowance’ means we are sensitive and encouraging about each other’s weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. The quirkiness of our natures sometimes needs to be accommodated. We do this with joy and a good spirit. God created our spouse, so it is a joy to worship Him by celebrating this unique expression of His creative genius.” (Gary Thomas)

In addition

Marriage Mentors United says this about living with each other’s quirks:

“Each one has its fair share of dysfunction and quirkiness because both people are human. But that doesn’t mean a marriage can’t be good or even great. It’s just a reality; even the great marriages have issues. So how do we achieve a great marriage if we still face problems? It comes down to this: It’s not the problems that define the marriage. And this is the key: It is how the couple handles the problems that make the marriage great!” (From the article, “There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Marriage”)

Additional advice from others approaching this issue:

“Realize that nobody’s perfect. As long as your spouse’s quirks are non-abusive and non-destructive, you can learn to live with them. Instead of focusing on their shortcomings, remember the qualities that attracted you in the first place. Perhaps some of these idiosyncrasies were part of the attraction? Just because a behavior isn’t mainstream, doesn’t mean that it’s toxic to the relationship.” (Dr Phil McGraw)

Dr David Hawkins says:

“Waiting for your mate to be perfect is like waiting for a train that will never arrive. It’s not going to happen. When you said ‘I do,’ you agreed in principle to bear with their weaknesses. Don’t let small matters become large. If something is important enough to bring to their attention, then choose carefully. Don’t make every issue something of importance. Doing so may say more about you than it does about them.”

Remember:

“The only thing harder than living with and even loving your husband’s flaws and quirks is realizing that he has to accept your weaknesses, too.” (Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen)

Husbands can say the same thing about living with their wife’s quirkiness. It’s also true what Elizabeth Gilbert wrote:

“People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’?”

This goes along with the advice to: “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterward.” It’s important not to forget to give each other grace and overlook that which is possible, for the sake of the relationship.

“Ask God to give you forbearance—the ability to endure your spouse’s quirks and carry the minor pain of being treated imperfectly. Let your gratitude for the grace God has given you motivate you to extend grace to your spouse, accepting him or her as is and not demanding too much change too soon. Whenever you do need to confront your spouse about something that has hurt or offended you, do so with the goal of solving the problem instead of just blaming them. Be for them, not against them.” (Jim and Sarah Sumner)

And above all:

Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace“ (Ephesians 4:2-3).

We pray this helps.

Cindy and Steve Wright

— ADDITIONALLY —

We talk about this issue and so much more in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:

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