Bad breath, chewing with the mouth open, being loud in the morning, leaving the empty milk carton in the fridge, or leaving clothes and stuff everywhere are all little things that can be handled graciously in relationships or horrendously. Either way works to eliminate the foul habits, the latter done horrendously not as much. However, one way is done in love while the other is done in fear.
There was a study done years ago about motivation science and how punishment or reward motivates factory workers’ performance. I’ll summarize the findings. When observing the long-term effects of people motivated by punishment (fear) and those motivated by reward (love), the ones motivated by love outperformed the ones motivated by fear. Also, results of their performance were longer lasting. Which motivational carrot do you think would be better to use in a loving relationship?
Many people struggle with these little things on a daily basis and do not have the skillset to approach their partner with kindness, love, and patience. It could be a combination of being raised with irritable parents or relatives, easily agitated siblings, or maybe their own personality flaws were not massaged out through schooling and discipline. Regardless of what has been said or done, it is important to discuss these things with your partner if they are really bothering you.
When you bring up the issues consider the things that could potentially bother your partner too. Whenever you bring up anything about your partner, it will immediately shine a light in his or her mind on the things that you do that are peeving him or her. There is an old saying that says, “Whenever you point your finger at someone, there are always three more pointing back at you!” Be prepared that when you are ready to discuss the issues at hand bothering you, to bring up and address the issues bothering your partner.
Next, if you decide that it may not be the right timing for you to have a serious talk, determine what you can do about it right now. Would you like to have influence in your partner’s life and a talk in the future? Begin to bring home forms of support i.e. a book on the topic, or perhaps a new mouthwash, or a laundry basket. There is a lot to say about modeling the behavior that you wish to see in your own environment. If your partner sees that you have a value of fresh breath and you are using this awesome mouthwash every day, he or she could get into it to! Buying a shoe rack for the shoes would be helpful! Placing quotes or reminders for yourself on the fridge or is a subtle way of sharing your value everywhere and the messages will be around and prepping your partner for a talk if he or she doesn’t catch on.
When you do have the conversation and you are comfortable bringing up your dirty laundry too, resolve to work on one thing at a time. Get excited about possible rewards when there is new habit established. Remind yourselves daily that you get better every day and every day is an opportunity to start again. Change doesn’t happen overnight and establishing a new habit and value could take months or even years for some people. Having a rich reward for each new habit can keep it fresh and the changes alive.