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HELP FOR THE FAMILY | MARRIAGE

A Better View of Annoying Traits

  • You like spontaneity; your mate needs to have everything planned.

  • You are quiet and reserved; your mate is an extrovert who is the life of a party.

Does your spouse have a trait that annoys you? Dwelling on it can harm your marriage. Indeed, the Bible says that “the one who keeps harping on a matter separates close friends.”—Proverbs 17:9.

Rather than let an annoying trait cause contention between you and your spouse, perhaps you can learn to see that trait in a better light.

In this article

 A better view of traits that annoy you

The trait that annoys you in your spouse might be related to a quality that you admire. Consider three examples:

“My husband is often slow at getting things done or at getting ready to go somewhere. But that same trait makes him patient—even with me. At times his slowness annoys me, but it’s also part of what I love about him.”—Chelsea.

“My wife is precise in planning things; she needs to feel that she has everything under control, which can be annoying. On the other hand, her attention to detail means she never leaves things to chance.”—Christopher.

“My husband can seem indifferent about things, which is frustrating. At the same time, his laid-back manner is one of the qualities that drew me to him in the first place. I admire his ability to stay calm in stressful situations.”—Danielle.

As Chelsea, Christopher, and Danielle learned, a mate’s strengths and weaknesses are often different facets of the same quality. When that is the case, you cannot discard the weakness without also eliminating the strength, any more than you can dispose of just one side of a coin.

Of course, some traits do not have a positive counterpart. For example, the Bible admits that some people are “prone to anger.” (Proverbs 29:22) In that case, a person should make every effort to put away “every kind of malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech.” *Ephesians 4:31.

But when a trait is simply annoying, follow the Bible’s advice: “Continue putting up with one another . . . even if anyone has a cause for complaint.”—Colossians 3:13.

In addition, try to find the positive counterpart of the trait—an aspect that may have even drawn you to your spouse in the first place. A husband named Joseph says, “Focusing on an annoying trait is like noticing the sharp edge of a diamond but not appreciating its brilliance.”

 Discussion guide

First, each of you can consider the following questions separately. Then discuss your answers with each other.

  • Does your spouse have a trait that you feel is causing marital conflict? If so, what is that trait?

  • Is the trait really a serious fault, or is it just annoying?

  • Is there a positive side to the trait? If so, what is it, and why do you value that aspect of your mate’s personality?