In response to my plea for help with a subject for this post, it was recommended to address: “When it comes to the RV Lifestyle, what is one little change I can accomplish right now to make life better with my partner on the road?”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about one particular behavior/thought pattern that I  don’t like in myself.  But in the heat of a moment, my reaction can be so swift that I sometimes don’t catch myself until I’ve done the damage.

Some of my partner’s behaviors are VERY irritating to me.  I get so tired of trying to hide what I’m feeling.  I don’t want just to spill what I feel which is very unkind (most the time I know at least to do that!)  Why is my partner the person who drives me the most insane? Is irritation the other side of love?  Is there a way for me to simply not FEEL irritated?

It’s so tempting to want to mold Stephen into what I think is a better model of himself.  Doesn’t he want to look, sound or talk better?  At those times I can convince myself that he would benefit so much from my adding a little polish!  But how would I feel if he was trying to improve me so he wouldn’t have to be irritated by my flaws?  Right.  Horrible.  Isn’t my behavior an indirect way of shaming him for being himself? 

I struggle with these feelings of annoyance, aggravation, irritation – it has many names – even though I’m keeping them to myself (mostly).  I know enough to know that I’m in the mode of judgment and have to laugh at myself.  Who made me Queen of what’s the right way to be?? Who’s always there when I have these feelings?  Those are the questions I want to take with me to the mirror where I can turn that scrutinizing laser beam on myself.  And, let’s face it, when it comes to the RV lifestyle and our relationships, we’d better be up to this kind of thoughtful self-reflection if we want a harmonious experience with our partner.  

So, when I’m at my best, I can stop that train before it runs over me.  Let’s admit it though, for a minute, feeling better than someone else is alluring.  But the feeling is short-lived, and I soon realize how much distance I’ve created between us.  Not only expressing but also feeling annoyance can kill a relationship.  I want to baste myself with feelings of connection, not superiority!  Connection is good for the long haul, and I’ll achieve it by not taking the easy path.

Here’s where I can get it right if I can step back and take a breath.  Stephen’s quirks are not responsible for my irritation.  As Brene Brown says, “ask what story I’m making up in my mind.”  Whoa, that’s a train stopper.  Also, am I not being annoying myself by being annoyed?

We’ve gotten far enough in our relationship that when my irritation slips out of my mouth, it’s nipped in the bud by my partner reminding me just how bad it feels.  Remember my post about being pecked?  Read more here.

Why is it so hard to remember we are allies, not enemies?

But the purpose of this post is to find a way to remind me to not even go near the edge of that cliff.  What is one small thing I can change in myself that will create less of this divisiveness in our relationship and my own internal life? 

So here it is.  My one small thing I can and will do when I’m hit with a sudden urge to “improve” on what I’ve found irritating.  After taking a deep breath and getting out of my “I know what’s best” mode, I can ask with sincerity, “Would you like some feedback about ________?

This behavioral change only works if we respect and trust that we’re both working our self-improvement programs and we ask the question with a great deal of kindness.

Here are some wise words I found in a Psychology Today Post.

“Whether you’re irritated by your partner’s appearance, habits, ways of doing things, or specific eccentricities, you are not alone.

Feeling annoyed at times is a normal part of being in a relationship.

However, being chronically annoyed is painful and damaging. You can avoid that fate by enlisting your secret powers of empathy, tolerance, gratitude, adoration, and calm, summed up in the following five ways of being in your relationship. Indeed, with practice, you’ll reap the rewards of feeling less annoyed and even more adoring overall.” 

The five ways are lengthy, but I encourage you to read through them here if you want to go into more depth.

I’ve learned some new ways I can be with this flaw in myself.  What do you do when you find yourself getting irritated more often than you wish in the RV lifestyle?