You might think your marriage is perfect—and by most accounts, it might be—but that doesn’t mean you don’t annoy your wife occasionally. In fact, you may be irritating her far more than you ever realized. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad husband. Far from it. It just means you’re human. If two human beings live together in a romantic relationship for any amount of time and claim they don’t get on each other’s nerves, they’re either mutants or lying.
Can you change? Should you change? That’s really up to you. It depends if your annoying behavior is causing real damage to the relationship or if it’s just… annoying. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common misdeeds among husbands, and how you can make small tweaks to correct it. Here are 30 things you could be doing right now that are annoying your wife.
Only pretending to listen.
You nod your head, as if carefully considering what she’s just said. But honestly, all you’re hearing is white noise. When you tune her out, it sends the message “You don’t matter.” Of all the mistakes husbands can make, this one is probably the most incontestable. When she’s talking, either be honest and admit you’re not interested in the topic, or take a deep breath and try paying attention.
Leaving your wet towel and dirty clothes scattered everywhere.
Unless you live in a hotel and there are maids paid to pick up after you, it’s not a bad idea to become acquainted with things like the bathroom towel rack and the hamper. We don’t care how busy or preoccupied you are, don’t leave a trail of laundry devastation in your path like you’re a one-man clothes tornado.
Asking where something is without bothering to look for it first.
The problem isn’t losing things. It’s calling in the search party before you’ve even looked in the most obvious places (or even some of the non-obvious ones). If you can’t find your favorite shirt and haven’t bothered to glance at the closet, you just want somebody else to make the effort for you.
Not wiping out the sink after you shave.
You think she’s delighted when she’s brushing her teeth and looks down at the sink to see the remnants of your recent shaving, like some kind of Jackson Pollock painting made of tiny hairs? No, it’s disgusting, and you should be mortified that you left that mess for her. Grab a tissue and wipe down your post-shave carnage.
Refusing to ask directions.
Men can be stubborn creatures, and nowhere are they more headstrong than when it comes to directions. They could be hopelessly lost, without a map or GPS or even an inkling of an idea where they are, and they’ll still be determined to figure it out on their own. Don’t make your wife be the one to finally ask a stranger for directions while you stew in the front seat. Be a man and admit defeat.
Some husbands would rather admit to infidelity than snoring. But the more passionate their insistence that they don’t snore, the greater the chance that their snoring sounds like a Harley-Davidson revving its engines in your bedroom. She’s not just nagging when she complains, it’s possible that your snoring could be a symptom of something more serious like sleep apnea. Get it checked out so you can both sleep better.
Acting like a complete baby when you have even a slight sniffle.
When a wife gets sick, she doesn’t expect the world to stop until she gets better. But when a husband catches a cold, even a minor cold, he practically declares a state of national emergency. He whines and moans and become incapacitated. If both husband and wife get sick simultaneously, well, we’ll give you one guess who’s heading out to get OJ and chicken soup.
Forgetting your anniversary, or her birthday, or…
A husband’s brain is capable of holding an amazing array of minutiae, from baseball stats to how to make the perfect Old Fashioned. But when it comes to what should be the most important dates in his calendar, he somehow just can’t seem to remember the day he got married, or when the woman he pledged his eternal love to was born. You’d think these things would be at the top of his priority list.
Sitting on the bathroom a ridiculous amount of time.
It’s a mystery that has perplexed wives (and women in general) for centuries. Why does a man go into the bathroom and stay for far longer than necessary? What in the world is he doing in there? It’s possible he’s just looking for a little peace and quiet, a brief respite from the family that—while he loves them unconditionally—can get on his nerves now and then. This is one annoying quirk she should learn to live with. A guy needs his solitude, and if a bathroom is the most accessible safe place, let him have it.
Staying in touch with exes.
Are you absolutely positive you need to be Facebook friends with your high-school girlfriend? Because even if it’s not weird, it still looks weird. In a pre-internet age, if you told your wife, “Just heading over to my ex-girlfriend’s place to share vacation and baby photos with her,” she would have cause to raise an eyebrow. Maybe it’s time for you to let the past stay in the past.
Showing more affection to your kids than to her.
No one is saying you shouldn’t love your children. It’s okay and even beautiful if you want to hug them and kiss their foreheads and remind them how much they’re adored. That just means you’re a great dad. But if you do all that for them and can’t be bothered to give your wife so much as a peck on the cheek, you have to know that this isn’t going unnoticed by her.
Not going to the doctor.
Guys can clear their schedules for last minute tickets to a sporting event, but when it comes to making an appointment for an annual checkup, it seems like they’re always too busy. “I’ll get around to it,” they promise, but we all know they won’t. Don’t make your wife be the bad guy who has to physically drag you to the doctor like you’re a dog being taken to the vet. Take some responsibility for your own health.
Loving the wrong movies.
Your unwillingness to get excited about movies that feature a shirtless Ryan Gosling can mystify and irritate her. But, truth be told, we’re on your side for this one. The heart wants what it wants, and for many husbands, that’s not a romantic comedy with Colin Firth being all charming and British.
Contradicting her around friends.
One of the most fundamental rules of a successful marriage is to always act like you’re on the same team. She has your back and she needs to know that you have hers. If she says something that’s wildly inaccurate around friends or family, don’t call her out on it. Don’t be the guy who says “Well actually honey, that isn’t true.” You don’t have to agree with her about everything, but you do have to support her or at the very least keep your mouth shut when she’s saying something in a social setting that you don’t agree with.
Inviting a pet to sleep in the bed.
It’s great that you love your dog this much, but when it comes to who you should be spooning with at night, opt for the one who doesn’t shed and has opposable thumbs.
Thinking “Movember” is mandatory.
Of course it’s commendable that you want to take part in charity, and Movember certainly is a great cause. (The annual no-shave month raises money and awareness for men’s health issues like prostate cancer.) But just so you know, it’s not the only charity opportunity out there, and there are ways to give back without necessarily growing a mustache that gives your wife the heebie-jeebies.
Needing praise for doing even the smallest chore around the house.
Taking the trash out or changing the batteries in the smoke detector might feel like hard work to you, but rest assured that you’re not the only one in this relationship making an effort. The difference is, when she does a chore that helps both of you—cooks a meal, say, or does a load of laundry—she doesn’t wait to be showered with praise, exalted as a selfless hero who has finally made the house safe and restored freedom and democracy to its inhabitants.
Making other plans for Date Night.
If marriages have their own Ten Commandments, one of them is almost certainly “Always remember the Date Night, to keep it holy.” Date Night is not some vague “we’ll see if we have nothing else to do” kind of arrangement. It is written in stone, and if you make other plans—like, “I know this is when we usually have date night, but I really want to go to the auto show”—you can fully expect to be crucified for it.
Using more hair products than she does.
Taking an interest in your personal grooming is a good instinct, but you can take it too far. If you spend more time in front of the bathroom mirror than she does, adding enough products to your hair to single-handedly take down the ozone, you should consider dialing it back a little. Unless you’re in a hair metal band from the ’80s, you’re taking it way too far.
Flirting with her friends.
You may think it’s harmless, but flirtation when you’re married is such a delicate tightrope walk, and it’s way too easy to lose your footing and fall into a pit of hungry alligators. (If you’ve missed the analogy here, the alligators are your angry wife, furious that you think flirting with her best friend right in front of her didn’t cross all of the lines.)
Responding to “Do I look fat in this?” with anything but “You look beautiful!”
If you didn’t know this already, quite frankly we’re surprised that you managed to get married in the first place. Seriously, how did you do it?
Leaving the toilet seat up.
It’s a gender battle as old as time, and it’s one that husbands will always, always lose. There’s no good reason for not being considerate enough to return a toilet seat to its original setting before leaving the bathroom. How hard is it, really? You’re adding maybe two seconds of effort to your day. And it goes a long way towards showing her that you don’t have the bathroom etiquette of a teenage boy.
Telling the worst jokes and insisting they’re funny.
Calling them “Dad jokes” doesn’t make it better. They’re still corny and sometimes painfully unfunny jokes that are amusing to nobody but you. Making your wife feel compelled to crack a smile every time you tell a lame joke, just because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, is emotional blackmail. If it’s obvious she’s just faking her laughter, cut it out and give her a bad comedy reprieve.
Not caring about your appearance.
The opposite of the husband who uses too many grooming products is the guy who can’t even be bothered to pluck his nose hairs. Just cause you’re married doesn’t mean all bets are off and you can now officially start letting yourself go. Your wife still needs to wake up every morning, look over at you and think, “Oh yeah, that’s the guy I married.” Not, “Sweet Lord, how did this train hobo get into my bedroom!”
Going out a little too often with the boys.
Several studies have shown that it’s healthy for men to have active social lives. Going out for a few drinks with best pals is a great way to relieve stress and forge strong male friendships. But if it starts to happen night after night after night after night (and so on), you can’t blame her for thinking you might be trying to avoid her. Make a night out with the boys a special occasion, not business as usual.
No longer thinking it’s necessary to seduce her.
Sex, even married sex, shouldn’t feel like a foot race where the first person to cross the finish line wins. Even if you’ve both slept in the same bed for decades, the moment you start to take her for granted, or think, “We can skip foreplay, I want to wrap up in time to watch the game,” you’ll have one (justifiably) unhappy wife on your hands.
Refusing to dance with her.
To be clear, this is not “refusing to dance well with her.” No wife is under any illusions that her husband is secretly Justin Timberlake and could bust out some serious moves at any moment. All she wants is for you to make an effort, to take her hand and lead her out on the dance floor every now and again. Even if you’ve got two left feet, just the fact that you’re trying goes a long way.
Being a bit too attached to mom.
Nobody is calling you a “mama’s boy,” but if you feel the need to call your mother more than three times a day and consult her on every major or minor life decision, often before (or even instead of) discussing it with your wife, you can’t be surprised if the woman you married thinks you might have a few teensy-weensy “mommy issues” that need resolving.
Being overly amused by flatulence.
The request “Pull my finger” wasn’t funny when your father said it, and it’s just as unfunny when you say it to your wife, as you hold out an index finger and barely suppress your giggles while waiting for the gut fireworks.
Still being on the phone when you’re both in bed.
It’s not just bad for you brain—according to recent studies, checking your phone at night seriously messes with your sleep cycle—it could also be hurting your relationship. Do you really think whatever’s happening on Facebook or Twitter is more important than having an end-of-the-day snuggle with the woman you love? Put that phone down, man!