There are times in our lives when we would willingly kill a partner … for a trifle that pisses us off. He never lowers the toilet seat, she always cleans up the papers she needs, he constantly buys laundry detergent in bags, although she needs a bottle of detergent, she throws out newspapers that he didn’t even have time to overlook.
The list is endless. But how can such seemingly nonsense lead to a scream or, conversely, to silence with a stone face? Our irritation is quite natural. “Moreover, these grains of sand in the millstones of a relationship are an indispensable attribute of living together and they say that the couple is doing well,” says French sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann. “Provided, however, that you know how to deal with them somehow.”
Such bouts of irritation can tell a lot about the difficult art of living together.
Psychologies: Why, as soon as partners start living together, there is annoyance with each other?
Jean-Claude Kaufmann: Even a honeymoon cannot do without it! But at first the irritation is felt weaker, because they do not want to see it and everyone tries to suppress this feeling in themselves. Entering a life together, you need to go towards the other, towards his world and the new one that you are building together. We need to realize the need to change, to move somewhere.
Two partners test each other and decide what they can give up in themselves and what they can accept in the other. Irritation at each other is a sign that the process of unification has begun. The more a relationship tends to merge, the greater the risk of irritation. And so on until the common guidelines for the two are established. After that, negative emotions constantly appear only in case of persistent trouble in the relationship.
Irritation is often associated with objects, their place in the house, but also affects the manners of the other, and his attitude to time …
We perform most of our daily actions mechanically, unconsciously. They are the result of past experience. Everyone has their own experience, and mechanical actions are also different. When it comes to simple procedures, placing objects, etc., no two people act the same.
In a couple, not all life is “together”, everyone needs air – personal time and personal space
He iron the shirts on the table, starting from the sleeves, and she uses the ironing board and starts from the back. And what happens? Mutual irritation. Living together is a clash of two microcultures. The couple is called upon to create a common culture, and irritation arises when the other manifests its characteristics.
But many women are especially annoyed that their partner is too “relaxed” at home, for example, throwing things …
In general, relaxing is a relatively new phenomenon. For many today, a couple is a place where they can find peace. Returning home after a busy day means finally sheltering from prying eyes and being able to let go of the reins. This is how men tend to use their home. And this tendency can reach a real regression – a return to childhood forms of behavior.
Feminine irritation refers not so much to this relaxation as to the fact that the man dissolves himself more and more and becomes less attractive. From a man’s point of view, what else is a couple for if not to give oneself free rein? But in a couple, not all life is “shared”, everyone needs air – personal time and personal space. And here it is necessary to find the right distance.
Do the causes of irritation in us change over time?
Naturally: the little things that at first we barely noticed, gradually become more obvious. This can go on for quite a long time – five, ten, twenty years. With the advent of children, some stimuli disappear, while others begin to act more strongly. Children need to be set by example, which prohibits certain habits, such as being sloppy and lazy.
In retirement, when people spend more time together, the gestures of the other, reminding them that he is different, remain the same, but more annoying. Alexander has been walking for thirty years with saggy pockets stuffed with all sorts of things, but suddenly for his wife it becomes unbearable – she sees nothing but this.
So, are we doomed to never endure each other?
From the moment the movement towards each other slows down or stops, the damage from bouts of irritation becomes greater. Moreover, over time, some automatic actions become fixed: Max bites his nails, Veronica is always late – and these features annoy their spouses.
But more important is not the cause of irritation or its intensity, but its evolution in time. If Alexander, Max or Veronica don’t give a damn about the fact that their behavior makes their partner nervous, it will end in an explosion. And their union will be threatened. It is necessary to make at least a little effort – even if it does not work. But we usually don’t know for a long time what annoys the other in us.
And when a person knows perfectly well what exactly makes another nervous, is there a risk of manipulation?
Usually married life is marked by the peaceful pursuit of unity. But when no outbursts of emotion, no attempts to speak, no sign language, or escape into silence all eliminate the irritation, the pleasure of manipulation can arise.
Those who stubbornly deny irritation and never talk about it – here they really can destroy love
For example, Jan hates it when his wife “forgets” to turn off the light, she knows it and deliberately doesn’t turn it off, “because he doesn’t even try to put his things away.” “Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” – this method of communication does not give any result.
Are you saying that it is sometimes more tempting to annoy another than to make concessions?
Today, people strive to live in accordance with modern ideas about tolerance, separation of household chores, rejection of the traditional distribution of roles. But this modern life is not so easy to build, and the “master-subordinate” model can again assert itself.
“Make concessions” is putting it mildly. It’s about changing something deep in yourself, working on yourself. To get rid of irritation, we fight either with the other or with ourselves – the latter is undoubtedly the only way to return to civilized conjugal communication.
Can everyday irritation kill love?
The salutary thing in this story is that the stages alternate. At first, someone gets angry, and this allows you to express what has not been said. Then there is a desire to feel like a couple again. After the crisis, partners meet warmly, as after a long separation.
But this only applies to those couples who are aware of the irritation and try to make it disappear. And those who stubbornly deny it and never talk about it – they can really destroy love.
Men get angry too
At first glance, women seem to get irritated much more easily than their partners. So men are more tolerant? Not exactly, explains Jean-Claude Kaufmann.
“Men are less likely to show their frustration openly. They generally speak less about everything related to relationships. When they are irritated, their main technique is evasion and silence, which in turn irritates women. Trying to behave as if nothing is happening and waiting for everything to “resolve by itself” is the main male strategy. In the life of a couple, something like a role-playing game arises: a woman is at the forefront, takes everything to heart, fights for her marriage, for her family. And behind him is a man who is never at his best – and by the way, he is often treated like a child. “
About the expert
Jean-Claude Kaufmann – Fellow of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, author of many books, including the bestseller “Irritation, Little Wars of Two.”