Ask Laura: Did I Fall Out of Love with My Husband?
Q. My husband's suddenly driving me crazy! Habits I used to find endearing -- like his gum chewing -- now irritate me. Could I have fallen out of love with him?
I'm certain you still love your husband -- even though it may not feel that way when he snaps his gum for the 32nd time in half an hour. Sure, you're annoyed with him, but the qualities you fell in love with in the first place are likely still there; figuring out your irritation will help you remember them. First, make sure you're enjoying your own life by spending time each week on your own interests and friends -- being fulfilled outside your marriage will help you feel more content inside it. Next, it's important to gently voice what you find bothersome to avoid letting your irritation build to the snapping point. The next time he pops his gum, trade "Stop it!" for "I know you don't mean to, but chewing your gum like that makes me a little nutty." You'll make your point, but in a more constructive way. Finally, work on shifting your focus to your partner's positive qualities by telling him three things you appreciate about him every day, such as how he sorts the laundry or sits through American Idol with you. The more appreciation you voice, the more you'll receive, and it's a lot harder to be annoyed by someone who appreciates you!
Laura Berman, Ph.D., runs The Berman Center, a sex therapy clinic for women and couples, in Chicago. Send her your questions at parenting.com/momsquad.