The Tiny Things That Almost Broke Us Up: 8 Women Spill The Tea
Ah, love: It can make us blind. That is, until the rose-tinted glasses come off, and you see your partner for what they really are: human.
Like you, your significant other is bound to have a few quirks. Maybe you overlooked the way he has to tuck his napkin into his shirt and slurp spaghetti like a 5-year-old (in public), or the way she leaves unfolded laundry in the basket for days after it's been washed. But sometimes minor habits can become major annoyances, to the point where these tiny, everyday behaviors are the big reasons couples almost call it quits.
Can minor disagreements lead to breakups?
According to licensed clinical psychotherapist LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D. MSS, M.A., outside the big issues—such as communication issues, desire discrepancy, cheating, money, etc.—the seemingly "small" discrepancies can cause a rift in the relationship too. In some cases, they're silent killers, adding up in the back of your mind.
"Couples may not even know that these issues are simmering because other aspects of their relationship fulfill at least a baseline level of their needs that allows them to stay together," Wish tells mbg. "But, in the process of one of them doing a particular task incorrectly that, in some way, relates to an unresolved issue, then a potent storm erupts into serious thoughts of breaking up."
Relationship expert and bestselling author Susan Winter tells mbg that things like bickering over where to eat dinner, what movies to see on date night, where to vacation, and who pays for what are some of the most common sources of "pre-breakup" arguments she has counseled. Sanam Hafeez, an NYC-based neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University, says even something as minuscule as who, when, and how often a partner texts or how they tackle (or don't) chores can become problematic.
"If the same argument happens over and over without resolution, it can create enough frustration to eventually cause a breakup," Winter tells mbg. "It's exhausting to fight the same battle and never find an agreeable solution."
Making it work.
Sound familiar? According to Hafeez, typically the little bubbles in a relationship aren't enough to cause the couple to boil over. "A breakup is likely to occur when many little things compound and become bigger issues," she explains. Should the couple fail to communicate about these little issues before they add up, that's when a domino effect can occur, and negative repercussions on the relationship can ensue.
But it doesn't always go down like that. The bottom line is: Relationships aren't always perfect because humans aren't perfect. Even though you love your S.O., you might not love every little thing about them. To give you a sample of the minor irritations that can drive couples crazy—and prove that you can make it through them—we asked eight women to describe the tiny things that almost broke up their relationships and how they worked through them. Here's what they told us.
She aired out their dirty laundry.
"He would always wash clothes and towels and NEVER fold them. [He would] just take what he needed out of the baskets. It bothered me because I felt like the 'house stuff' was automatically my job. Laundry is an everyday life thing; he thought if you don't have time, why kill yourself over it?
"[So] I told him a few times, then started dumping the clothes and towels on his side of the bed. He got the hint. He [now] folds all towels, the kids' laundry at times, or whenever I tell him to fold, he will." —Meghann, 31
Not enough time in the day.
"There was a long-distance hurdle where we were adjusting to going from seeing each other for or five times a week to once. I thought he would break up with me if we couldn't see each other because it would just fizzle, so I got crazy about it.
"He was actually really great about addressing my stress over it when he realized I wasn't just nagging him to hang out more. He [still] reassures me that the distance isn't a big deal and we'll make it work.
"We worked really hard on resolving the way we looked at the distance between us. I stopped catastrophizing everything when [I thought] he didn't wanna come out to see me. [It turned out] he was just stressed with work. [Now,] we FaceTime, talk on the phone, and try to have a regular schedule when we can. We've tried meeting in the city more often when we have stressful weeks to kind of get a dose of each other. I think we've gotten much better at communicating, which globally helped us talk through the issue." —Tina, 27
"He didn't like going to places with big crowds (concerts, fairs, etc.), where I love being a part of something big with lots of people! I tried to avoid situations that make him feel uncomfortable, [but] it [still] bothered me because that wasn't who I was. I was trying to adapt who I was to what he liked, and he didn't adjust who he was for me. It became an internal anxiety of whether he was going to be comfortable going to different places that we made plans for.
"I think in his eyes, going to baseball games was a compromise because I enjoyed it, and that was the type of crowd he could handle." —Angela, 23
Mama's boy to the max.
"He would call his mom about everything. We'd be out to dinner, and he'd call to ask if she thought he should have the chicken or the steak. He’d call when we were at the grocery store to make sure he got the right milk. He'd even call about the gas he was filling his car with. One day I decided I'd had enough when he called her asking if she thought we should spend the weekend away together.
"It bothered me because I thought that, as a man at the age of 28 and a recent homeowner, he'd be a little more confident in himself and his decisions. I think because he hadn't been in a relationship for a few years prior, his mom served that confirmatory role for him. Anytime I asked about it, he said he valued his mom's opinion. Looking back, I think he didn't fully trust his own opinion and always sought confirmation.
"We had a lengthy conversation, and he agreed to text instead of call her, which lasted about a week because she was getting frustrated that the texts took longer than a quick phone call. I realized that the need for confirmation was very prevalent for him and kind of gave up on trying to fix it." —Monika, 27
Sweet tea gone sour.
"My husband used to work at McDonald's, so every night he would bring home a sweet tea but would only drink a few sips of it.
"The sweet teas would pile up, until one night, I went to turn my alarm clock and knocked about three of them onto the carpet. This happened at least five times. We had to have a significant 'come-to-Jesus' talk about how it couldn't happen again or I was going to lose my mind and probably be out." —Allison, 25
"He doesn't do social media; seriously, he insists on calling everyone. It's so annoying. He's not even old; he's just old-fashioned.
"I'm an introvert and express myself better on social media. I'm also a photographer on Instagram; that's where I post photographs that I'm proud of taking. He hasn't seen any of them.
"We both understand that we are part of the problem. I had unrealistic expectations of him joining the social media circus when I knew from the beginning that he wasn't that type of person. And he realizes that he should at least make attempts to find out what my interests are.
"I've finally just accepted it. It's weird and quirky now? I guess it still irritates me. [But] I've just learned that, in the grand scheme of things, it's a small issue. He has a wonderful heart and is a great human, so I can move on." —Amber, 35
No good at goodbyes.
"During our first year of marriage, my husband would leave the house without saying anything. Like, no goodbye, no "be back later," and no idea where he was off to. It was like I was just a roommate rather than we were married and sharing our life together.
"I don't think he realized that there was a new sense of accountability once we got married. That was very frustrating, and he made it sound like I was trying to 'monitor' him rather than understanding that we just should be communicating since we were now an official couple, not just individuals alone." —Genie, 37
"He couldn't figure out the remote control in the hotel room. No, seriously. Prior to that, he couldn't figure out the driving directions, where the bathroom in a museum was, and how to number his Microsoft Word document.
"All my past boyfriends led the relationship by taking charge of the little details. I like that sort of masculine energy, and I liked being taken care of in this way. But with my current partner, I had to take charge, and I resented that I had to do 'all the work.' I thought we just didn't match in terms of figuring easy things out, and I was tired of being the one who always had to do things.
"His perspective was that he's just slower at learning, and he didn't want to feel forced to do what he simply wasn't good at. He explained that he was a visual-spatial thinker who learns complex concepts easily but struggles with easier skills. So, he was content to let me take charge because I naturally was so much better at it than he was.
"He contributed to the problem by assuming that I would be happy to take charge. Meanwhile, I wasn't seeing that he was silently doing his part in the relationship by doing all the little things that I avoided like driving me around, doing the laundry, getting rid of insects, etc.
"We decided to compromise and play to our individual strengths, which happened to be complementary to each other. Instead of trying to force each other to be like the other, we decided to work as a team. We also decided to communicate in a better way, so he'll know when I need him to step up and vice versa.
"I'm in charge of all the little details now while he's in charge of the manual labor and is the idea guy for our adventures together." —Cherlyn, 32
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