Everything my partner does irritates me

Finding everything your partner does irritating can be stressful, worrying and frustrating. It can make you feel like your relationship is a burden instead of a positive thing in your life.

Once you get to the point where you no can no longer enjoy your partner’s company, solving any existing relationship issues becomes much more difficult, as you may find you’re unable to talk about anything without it turning into an argument.

Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the kind of problem that fixes itself. It’s important to try to start a dialogue with your partner about any issues that may be causing these feelings of irritation before they build up any further.

Letting things go

First off, it can be worth remembering that finding someone we’ve been around for a while a little annoying from time to time is normal. Familiarity can make even the most endearing behaviours seem a little tedious and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if your irritation isn’t actually making it hard for your relationship to function.

Sometimes, a little perspective is all that’s needed. Think about all the things that you like about your partner and try to recognise how lucky you are to have someone that makes you feel safe and appreciated, even if they occasionally get on your nerves. And remember: you probably have a few habits they find irritating too!

Talking about space

If this is becoming a real problem for you, it may be that you need to renegotiate your boundaries.

Sometimes, partners can have very different ideas on what is an acceptable level of contact – both physical and emotional. They may be comfortable spending all their time with you, whereas you might want a little more ‘me’ time. They may always want to make plans together, whereas you might like to do stuff by yourself or just with your friends sometimes.

Speaking to your partner about this is likely to reduce at least some of the tension you’ve been feeling.

Find time to sit down and talk when you’re not already feeling annoyed. Don’t phrase your comments as an attack. Acknowledge that things haven’t been as good as they could be recently and that you think it would be a good idea to communicate.

Listen to each other and acknowledge each other’s opinion. Try not to lose your temper or make criticisms – that’s only likely to create more conflict.

Dealing with wider issues

If your irritation is so constant and strong that it’s threatening your relationship, it may be that you need to think about any issues that could be causing it. Often, the things we get annoyed about in relationship aren’t really what’s bothering us. Sometimes, there are things beneath the surface that we’re avoiding thinking about.

If you’re honest with yourself, are there any areas about your relationship that you’re not sure about – any sources of anxiety or resentment? Again, change can be a big source of stress and tension. Even if things were fine before, a shift in circumstance can be enough create problems where there were none before. Sometimes this can happen without you even noticing.

Getting these feelings out in the open is the best way to deal with them. This kind of conversation isn’t always necessarily easy – especially if things have already become fractious and tense. Relationship Counselling can be a great way of speaking honestly with your partner about your relationship.

If you’re struggling with your relationship Relate provides a safe space where you can talk about things openly.

  • Book an appointment by calling 01908 310010

Teaching creeps up on you

Teaching creeps up on you and lifts time from your back pocket without you noticing

Our latest survey of the nation’s relationships The Way We Are Now 2015 reveals 22% of people work longer hours than they choose and it’s damaging their health. It also reveals that 94% of relationship practitioners agree that being unhappy or under pressure at work has a damaging impact on relationships at home.

In this guest blog, teacher and blogger Tom Starkey (Stack of Marking) talks about how the pressures of his job have affected his home life.

Teaching is an odd job. It’s a combination of performance and administration, toughness and empathy. There are highs and lows which are often to be found in extremely quick succession (depending on which classes appear on your timetable on that particular day).

There’s an inherent nobility in teaching, but you’re often derided by politicians and the media for not doing it well enough, or fast enough, or too well, or too slowly or with too much glitter and glue or whatever the latest set of exam results do or do not indicate. These exterior pressures are matched and often exceeded by the pressure we put ourselves under to try and do the best we possibly can for those in our charge.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great benefits too. The holidays are an epic thing of beauty, we get the chance to try and improve the lives of young people on a daily basis and when things are going well there are few professions as fulfilling. It’s a job that has given me great joy over the years, but without a doubt, it has also taken much out of me.

And the ones I love.

Because teaching is also a sneaky bugger. It creeps up on you and lifts time from your back pocket without you noticing. It relentlessly demands your attention and efforts and doesn’t give you much in the way of praise, affirmation or even a measly pat on the back – all the while whispering to you that it’s alright, the sacrifice is worth it – it’s for the kids after all.

It takes. And when a job does that, it has to take from somewhere.
“Teaching is a sneaky bugger. It creeps up on you and lifts time from your back pocket without you noticing.”

Every night spent marking to midnight and beyond, every weekend planning lessons, every moment going the extra mile just to make sure things run smoothly is a small withdrawal. Sometimes that withdrawal is in the form of time with partners and spouses. Sometimes it’s in the form of a lack of attention to the needs of those around you. Sometimes it’s in the form of your absence; either physically or emotionally.

There are arguments, caused by an unspoken resentment of the concentration of effort made seemingly everywhere but the home. There’s worry as partners see those that they care for slip away into fatigue and depression. Sunday nights become unbearable as the prospect of the working week dilutes the precious time you do have at home with a dose of anxiety about what lies ahead. These withdrawals may seem small, even meaningless in the moment, but they add up.

I’ve been guilty of this absence myself. The result is a distance from those who I should be closest to because they care.

I’m lucky. I’m lucky because I recognized this fairly early on in my career and because I’m married to someone who put up with me while I did. I took steps to try to make sure that teaching didn’t take away the things that were most important.
“Sunday nights become unbearable as the prospect of the working week dilutes the precious time you do have at home with a dose of anxiety about what lies ahead.”

I’ve turned down management roles as I knew it would only compound the problem of workload (and to be completely honest, I’d be absolutely awful at it). I’ve protected time designated for my wife like a bodyguard tasked with ensuring the safety of an important foreign dignitary. I try to combat issues such as behaviour, deadlines, targets with a detached irreverence where formerly they would have led to anxiety, even depression.

But it’s not easy. There’s always that whispering voice – and even now I often find myself ringing home to cancel something we had planned or looking up at the clock in a classroom and realising I’ve got approximately seven minutes to get across town to a restaurant that is at least half an hour away. I sometimes stare into space with my family around me, my mind firmly set on the horrors of Monday’s second lesson until my wife gently coaxes me back to the great things going on at the present moment.

The difference now is that I care. It registers. I feel bad and I want to make it up. Teaching is an important job, but ultimately -the same with any job – that is all it is. As is so often the case, the real work needs to be done at home because that’s where you end up when the bell goes.

That’s the lesson I’ve learned.

Need to talk to someone? Relate provides a safe space where you can talk about things openly.

  • Book an appointment by calling 01908 310010

How to cope with loneliness

How to cope with loneliness

Our new survey of the nation’s relationships The Way We Are Now 2015 reveals that one in ten of us has no close friends – the same finding from our report last year.

Being lonely affects you in lots of ways. It can reduce your confidence, make you feel less optimistic, even make it harder to identify with others. Loneliness can feel like a self-fulfilling prophecy – the longer you go without friends, the harder it can be to make new ones.

And if you’re in a relationship, it can put that relationship under a lot of pressure – as it effectively puts your partner in the position of fulfilling all your social needs.

So what should you do if you don’t have any close friends but want to make some? It can be a daunting prospect. If you’re finding it difficult, you might find the following tips useful.
■Get to know yourself first. Have a good think about what it is you find difficult about making friends and how you might go about addressing it. It may be that you don’t feel confident enough to approach new people. You may worry that you aren’t likeable enough. Or it may have been so long since you made a friend that you simply can’t remember how to do it. Knowing what you need to work on gives you a focus – and can help you to understand your current situation better. If you’re finding things tricky, Relationship Counselling works for single people too. Your counsellor can help you identify any emotional patterns or habits and help you think about how to change them.
■Put yourself in new situations. If you don’t have many friends at work and spend most of your free time at home, it can feel like you never have a chance to meet anyone new. But sometimes you have to create your own opportunities. Although it’s a cliché, clubs or social groups are great places to meet others with similar interests to your own. Sites like Meetup, Badoo and even Facebook all list events where people can socialize. Volunteering, too, can be a great way of meeting new people while doing something fulfilling.
■Practice. Although it may sound a little clinical, making friends requires a set of skills that you can develop over time. It may take a few attempts before you’re able to get over the awkwardness of striking up a conversation with someone you haven’t met before or holding small talk in an unfamiliar situation. But be patient with yourself and give it time. Before you know it, your confidence will begin to grow.
■Reconnect with old friends. It’s not just about making new friends! Think about whether there’s anyone you used to see more regularly that it would be nice to reconnect with. We sometimes assume that, because they haven’t been in contact, old friends won’t be interested to hear from us – but they may be assuming the same thing about you! If there’s someone you’d like to catch up with, why not drop them a line?
■Be persistent. Making new friends can be tricky and you can’t necessarily expect results really fast. If you need a break, take one. But don’t let setbacks put you off. Instead of focusing on having immediate success, try to enjoy the process. See building up your confidence and getting involved in new things as an end in itself. Our social circles tend to evolve organically when we provide the right environment.

Want to talk to someone? Relate provides a safe space where you can talk about things openly.

  • Book an appointment by calling 01908 310010