7 Common Complaints Couples Don’t Express To Each Other In A Healthy Relationship
If you spend a lot of time with another person, at some point, you'll probably realize that, on occasion, you have some complaints. It's normal to get annoyed or frustrated with people from time to time, whether that's your partner, your kids, your best friend, or your family members, but it's not always the best idea to actually express each and every one of those complaints to the other person. There might even be some common complaints couples don't express to each other in a healthy relationship that you've mistakenly (or intentionally, you're only human, after all) verbalized to your partner once or twice, but ultimately, if you want your relationship to go the distance, some complaints should likely be left unsaid or, at least, not fought over.
"Complaints are not inherently bad," licensed marriage and family therapist Theresa Herring tells Romper in an email exchange. "Nor do they spell doomsday for a relationship. Couples consist of two distinct people, which means conflict is inevitable. But you don't want to bring something up just to pick a fight or argue just to win. You want to focus on what is important to you and calmly articulate to your partner what is important to you and why. When it comes to conflict, I encourage people to focus on what they want most rather than what they want right now. So sometimes that means letting little things go and other times it means bringing things up so that it doesn't become a problem later."
Some habits, annoyances, and complaints are things you should just let go. In a happy and healthy relationship, they're just not always worth the argument.
1. Toothpaste Remnants Left In The Sink
Nitpicking and nagging your partner about something like toothpaste remnants left in the sink just isn't something that you should do in a healthy longterm relationship, Irene Schreiner, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email. Being able to let something like this go can help you avoid unnecessary arguments.
2. Dresser Drawers Left Open
Schreiner adds that something like dresser drawers left open might still frustrate you sometimes, but it's not worth vocally complaining about. "[People in a healthy relationship] don't see those actions as signs that their partner is inconsiderate, doesn't like them, or is purposeful trying to make them mad," she says. Simply closing the drawer if you don't want it left open and letting go of whatever frustration resulted from seeing it open is likely a better way for you to handle the situation.
3. Leaving The Toilet Seat Up
Leaving the toilet seat up or down is a common complaint in heterosexual relationships, but it probably shouldn't be one about which the two of you are regularly bickering. Vikki Ziegler, a divorce attorney, relationship expert, author of The Pre-Marital Planner, star of two seasons of Untying the Knot on Bravo TV, and host of #DearVikki, an interactive video series for relationship advice, tells Romper via email, "These are things that you can discuss nicely by sharing that their habits bother you, but couples should definitely not fight over them." Fighting over little things like leaving the toilet seat up will only cause — not solve — problems.
4. Paper Towels Left On The Counter
If your partner regularly leaves used paper towels on the counter, it's understandable if that bothers you a bit, but still, it shouldn't be something that causes a fight because, ultimately, it's not that big of a deal. But even if you do decide to share with your partner that this annoys you, you should be prepared that that doesn't mean that they'll automatically stop doing it. "In healthy relationships people realize that just because one partner voices a complaint doesn't mean that the other person has to do something different," Schreiner says. "While they generally try to honor the complaint if possible, there is space to accept and reject requests without getting hurt."
5. Not Putting Clothes In The Hamper
Not putting clothes in a hamper or basket, instead opting to leave them strewn about a room or closet, can be borderline infuriating if your partner does it on a daily basis, but when you get down to it, fights about dirty laundry probably aren't even actually about their habit of leaving clothes everywhere.
"Most small nuisances based on your partner’s characteristics don’t need to become the topic of the day, resulting in a big fight," Ziegler says. "The bigger, more generalized common complaints that don’t have a place in a healthy relationship are when your partner doesn’t help out with day-to-day chores like cleaning up after a meal, helping you run errands, [and more], but it all comes down to the way you create your boundaries. Discussing boundaries is the real root of making sure your relationship is healthy and ensuring that you are both on the same page about doing mundane tasks like chores so there is no animosity."
6. Leaving Dirty Dishes In The Sink
Piles of dirty dishes are likely to frustrate many partners, but they don't have to be cause for bickering or full-blown arguments. In a healthy relationship, couples are able to reframe things and not just focus on the little annoyances, Herring says. "Healthy couples focus on core issues not surface issues," she adds. "Us couples therapists have a joke that it's never about the dishes. Couples might be fighting about the dishes but really it's about feeling supported, valued, and not taken for granted. I recommend that couples get to the core issue — feeling unsupported, being overwhelmed, feeling alone in the relationship — and focus on that rather than the surface issue." Harping on them for leaving dishes in the sink when the real issue isn't even the dishes isn't going to solve problems and might make things worse by causing a bit of resentment.
7. Smacking Their Lips And Other Habits
Again, lip smacking and other things that they do that might grate on you from time to time likely isn't worth discussing at length. Ziegler says that pet peeves like this one can be addressed if there's a real need, but that doing so calmly and respectfully — rather than complaining, whining, or starting a fight — is a healthier way to go about it.
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