Video: Handling your partner’s annoying habits
Transcript of: Handling your partner’s annoying habits
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE reporting: This morning on TODAY'S RELATIONSHIPS , your partner's annoying habits. Does being overly messy, leaving the toilet seat up, or hogging the remote control sound familiar to you? Well, Dr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist and a TODAY contributor, and she's going to tell us how to handle those unpleasant behaviors before they stink up the relationship. Dr. Gail , we need you.
Dr. GAIL SALTZ (Psychiatrist): Yes.
GUTHRIE: It's easy to kind of giggle about some of these things, but annoying habits can become significant issues in a relationship.
Dr. SALTZ: They can. It's a matter of how it's dealt with. So these are like human behaviors that everybody has. I mean, I admit I have scratched my back with a fork.
GUTHRIE: Oh, I was going to get to that.
Dr. SALTZ: I have done it. But, you know, not in public. And so the point is the public starts -- you know, first, your partner is somebody that you were romancing and you don't do these things in front of. And then your partner becomes somebody you just sort of let it all hang out with, but you still want them to feel sexually attracted to you. Those don't go together.
GUTHRIE: Let's show a list of some of the top annoying habits. And I have to say I was surprised to see scratching the back as a -- using the fork to scratch the back was really high on the list.
Dr. SALTZ: High on the list. And you don't eat with it afterwards, but yes.
GUTHRIE: And does it work?
Dr. SALTZ: But many of these...
GUTHRIE: I'm just kidding.
Dr. SALTZ: Unfortunately that's the problem, it does. Many of these things are what I would call orifice issues, things need to come out, things go in, it's human, but you try not to do it in front of the person that you care about. And it's misinterpreted as 'You don't respect me.'
Dr. SALTZ: Or 'You don't care about how I feel because I've asked you not to do it.' And that's when it can degenerate into sort of a nagging cyclical thing that can end very badly.
GUTHRIE: Let's quickly go through some of the common complaints people have. The first is not paying attention to the other.
Dr. SALTZ: Right. So 'I want to talk to you, honey, and you are talking to the top of my head because I am texting, I am on the computer,' and you know, it makes you feel not paid attention to. What you need to do is devise a code word that basically says, 'Hey, this moment matters to me, so break off whatever you're doing if I say banana,' or whatever it is, you know, you have some message with each other so that that doesn't happen all the time.
GUTHRIE: Maybe the code word could be fork, depending on the relationship.
Dr. SALTZ: Depends on what....
GUTHRIE: OK. Another common complaint, being overly messy.
Dr. SALTZ: Yeah, well, you know, the trail of wherever you've been. 'I know where you've been because there are the dishes, there are the clothes.' But people when they come in, they want to often relax at first and this is their way of sort of marking their territory almost in a -- in a very primitive way. You need to say, 'Hey, I just need a time frame for when those things will be gone because I know you don't expect me to clean it up.'
GUTHRIE: We have less than a minute. A couple other habits, having bad manners, we kind of talked about that.
Dr. SALTZ: Yep.
GUTHRIE: Being a control freak .
Dr. SALTZ: The remote control , 'It's only mine,' this is about a power struggle. You need to find a way to share and divide the power.
GUTHRIE: Let's get to our tips. You say, first of all, be aware of the problem. Isn't that the issue, that you are aware of the problem?
Dr. SALTZ: You know, the problem is the person who's doing it might not be aware of the problem.
Dr. SALTZ: You might just be nagging and criticizing them all the time and they don't know that it's this one habit that's really driving you nuts. Tell them.
GUTHRIE: Prioritize, you say.
Dr. SALTZ: You can't pick about everything. You have to have the one or two things that really matter and you have to let the rest go.
GUTHRIE: I like this, make a habit trade.
Dr. SALTZ: This is probably the most valuable one. Guess what, you have bad habits , too. So he gets to pick one, you get to pick one, you make a trade. That's the thing you're going to work on.
GUTHRIE: And our last tip, emphasize the positive. You love this person, after all, right?
Dr. SALTZ: That's right . Or remind yourself why you loved them in the first place and put that at the top of the list.
GUTHRIE: All right. Thank you so much , Dr. Gail Saltz . Appreciate the advice.
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