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Learning not to sweat the small stuff

Relationships are never perfect. We become so comfortable around the person we love that it can be all too easy to get frustrated with that person and pick fights unnecessarily. Avoid useless bickering with these simple tips.

Couple in an argument

See the other side

Let’s face it, in any given situation, whether it be war, politics or love, the biggest piece missing from the puzzle lies in working to see the other person’s perspective. It’s easy to get bogged down in our own feelings and lash out. But such behaviour is never constructive. Moments when you are frustrated with your man are good times to play devil’s advocate. Ask yourself why he might be acting that way. What in his past or present could have made him say/do such-and-such? Does he even realize that what he has done bothers you so much? Often one partner in a relationship can feel incredibly frustrated without the other even realizing he or she has done anything wrong. Before you get angry, try to get a sense of what he’s thinking, so that you can work through it together.

Be honest

It’s the age-old tale — woman gives man the silent treatment, man asks woman if she is angry, woman replies no, man trundles off to tell his buddies how confused he is by the whole experience. Sound familiar? Probably. Sound productive? Probably not. Ultimately, this kind of interaction does come from a place of love. We give our loved ones the silent treatment because we are so comfortable around them that we would prefer to just stay angry and trust that they will make it up to us in time. But as anyone who has received the silent treatment knows, it is far more frustrating than it is efficient. Sometimes we stay quiet because we simply don’t feel like talking about it — we just want him to know we’re angry. Although this is a natural experience, it does build a wall between the two of you. Rather than let your anger simmer silently, let your man know, “Yes, I am angry at you, but I don’t want to talk about it and I would prefer to just be alone for a bit.” Then, go do your own thing. Read a book, go for a walk, hit the gym — this is the time for whatever helps you unwind. It will give you some clarity. If when you come back the problem seems small and silly, let it go. If it is still getting to you, maybe now is a good time to bring it up, since you’ve had a moment alone to think.

Think of the future

When you spend large amounts of time together, there are of course going to be conflicts in a relationship. Perhaps that other person doesn’t do the dishes as often as you would like or chews loudly through movies. It is completely natural that these small things can begin to grate on you over time. But when they do, it is important that you take a step back, breathe and evaluate. Ask yourself,
“Is this make or break for me?” If the answer is no, start working towards putting it out of your mind. You might kindly suggest how things could be changed or simply adopt approporiate coping mechanisms and move on. If it isn’t worth ending the relationship over, it isn’t worth dwelling on.

Stick to the issue

If you just can’t hold something in any more and decide to broach the subject, then it’s important to stay on topic. Bringing issues from the past into the conversation will only complicate matters. You’ll both wind up being angry about different things and not be able to communicate appropriately on the problems that really count. Once something is in the past, leave it there, and focus on what needs changing today.

Don’t misplace your anger

It’s natural, when we feel as though everything is going wrong, to take out our feelings on the one person we know will stick by us regardless. Sometimes you might even do this without knowing it, getting frustrated that your boyfriend didn’t vacuum the front hall rather than dealing with your disappointment that your sister didn’t call for your birthday or your boss refuses to promote you. And although this method might work for a little, it will very quickly begin to wear on your man. Don’t pick fights with him just because you feel you can — instead, let him be your sounding board for the issues that are really getting to you.


Ultimately, picking your fights is about prioritizing. You are with this man because you love him and that means having to take the time to sort through your problems calmly and rationally. It might be challenging at first, but a meaningful relationship is certainly worth it!

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