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How to fix your partner’s bad habits

Posted at 5:08 PM, Nov 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-17 19:08:53-05

Bad habits..we all have them and for the most part they don`t bother us one bit.  Sure, we are perpetually late and sure we forget names at dinner parties but it`s not big deal, right?  Wrong!  The moment you say 'I do' at the alter, you are signing up to live with your partner`s bad habits for the rest of your life.

After all, it`s not your bad habits that are the problem, it`s your partners.  For the sake of living a life where you aren't perpetually bothered, irritated or enraged by your partner`s open mouth chewing or cluttered counter tops, here are some secrets therapist Laura Heck suggest to fixing your partner`s bad habits.

First of all, you cannot 'fix' your partner.  Those habits are deeply ingrained and rule number one in relationships is that you cannot change anyone.  You only have control over yourself.  So instead of making a list of your partner`s flaws, try identifying your annoying habits first.

How do you get your partner to kick their bad habits?

  1. Is it really that big of a deal?  You`ve heard of the advice 'pick your battles'.  Next time the toothpaste is squeezed in the middle, ask yourself 'On a scale of 1-10, how big of a deal is this?'  If it`s a high enough number then address it, if it is a momentary discomfort, take some deep breaths and move on.  According to Dr. Gottman, 69% of conflict is perpetual, meaning that it will come back year after year after year.  This is simply a product of trying to join two totally different and unique lives together with their own likes, dislikes, habits and hang ups.
  2. Don`t globalize your partner`s bad habit to a character flaw.  Your partner isn`t a slob simply because they leave a pile of dishes in the sink.  Take it easy tiger.  If you really want your partner to do something for you, you have to be gentle and kind when you address their perceived deficits.
  3. Give some context to your annoyances.  Complaining about a bad habit isn`t going to get you anywhere.  Tell your partner why this particular habit makes your skin crawl.  Back story is important for your partner to empathize with your pain and discomfort and makes them more likely to hear your complaint and do the heavy lifting it will take to change their habits.
  4. Pick one habit to focus on at a time.  Multitasking has been shown to be ineffective.  Pick one habit to break (and one to replace it with) and stick with it for two months.
  5. Iron sharpens iron.  Relationships can and should be a place where you can grow and become a better version of yourself.  Tackling bad habits as a team is much easier than attempting to do it alone.

If you are interested in learning more about how to strengthen your relationship check out  Laura also has a popular podcast dedicated to hacking your relationship complaints called Marriage Therapy Radio on iTunes and Stitcher.