Highly Sensitive Refuge
a highly sensitive person learns to stop letting annoyance hurt her marriage

How I Stopped Letting Annoyance Hurt My Marriage

In my work as a relationship coach for highly sensitive women, and as an HSP myself, I’ve noticed that we HSPs have a tendency to feel easily annoyed or irritated by our significant other. Little things that wouldn’t bother others may rub us the wrong way more quickly and more often.

This, of course, makes sense, as our systems are sensitive, and we tend to notice every little thing about others — so flaws can loom large and really get under our skin!

This is especially true when we’re already in a state of overstimulation, which happens more quickly for HSPs than it does for others.

It was during the recent hectic holiday season that this began to really stand out to me. I heard from many clients and women in my HSP community words like, “I’m so irritated lately,” “My husband is so annoying,” “ I’m worried that I’m annoyed so much at my partner.”

A couple women shared how feeling annoyed at their man made them worry they shouldn’t be with him, or that something must be wrong with the relationship. They worked themselves into a state of anxiety over the health of their relationship because of these feelings of annoyance.

Let’s take a closer look at why HSPs can be prone to experiencing strong feelings of annoyance in their relationship, plus I’ll share how I stopped letting it damage my marriage.

Why Are HSPs Bothered by ‘Little’ Things?

HSPs process stimulation deeply, so “little” things that don’t bother others can become overwhelmingly stressful or frustrating for us. Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, writes on page 87 of her book, “HSPs can be bothered by all sorts of subtle things that are irritants only to us, and somewhere inside we know it and fear its effects on the other and on our own love.”

I, myself, went through an annoyed phase during the holidays, so I could really relate. I know how uncomfortable and concerning these feelings can be, and how hard they can be on our partner as well. Because when we feel  annoyed we act — dare I say it — annoying, or at least difficult. And that can be hard for everyone — kids, our partner, and others — to be around.

I realized this was an important and yet often overlooked topic, and I wanted to bring it out into the open, and share my personal success in handling these feelings, so other HSP women wouldn’t feel so bad about it or allow their annoyed feelings to cause any damage to their relationships.

This holiday season was really full for me. With three young ones, my own business as a relationship coach, and a huge extended family, I naturally expect this time of year to fray my nerves. So when I found myself in a low grade state of chronic irritation, I wasn’t surprised.

When I started getting aggravated at every little thing my husband did (little things like telling me the same story for the umpteenth time) or didn’t do (like start a fire in the wood stove first thing in the morning), I did not descend into that despair pit of doom about my marriage.

Instead, this is what I did to get myself through those days of annoyance.

What to Do When You’re Hyper-Annoyed With Your Partner

1. I took a good look at what was under those feelings.

I reminded myself that my feelings were not his fault. I really looked at the fact the he wasn’t doing anything different or more annoying than normal. My feelings came 100 percent from something going on in myself.

I really investigated what those were in this case.

I saw there were some physical conditions feeding my annoyance: hormones, stress, the endless grey skies, cold weather, and long dark nights — cabin fever.

I also saw I was allowing my mind to focus on what was wrong and to fall into judging mode, instead of seeing what was right. So I spent some conscious time focusing on the good in my man and in our lives at the moment. Seeing the good helped my irritation fade for a bit.

2. I caught my mind telling me stories about what my feelings meant.

Most of us HSPs take our thoughts about our feelings really seriously. As in, “If I feel irritated, something must be wrong with my husband, or with me, or with US!”

How do you feel when you think like that? Likely worried. And pretty upset. I know I did when I used to buy into them.

I did have thoughts about what this annoyance “meant,” such as:

Does it mean something’s wrong with me and my ability to love? Does it mean I’ll never feel good with my husband again? Does it mean he’s an annoying person and I made a mistake marrying him?

But I know those thoughts are normal, and I don’t have to actually believe them.

Thinking such fearful thoughts, and analyzing what they mean, is just what the sensitive human mind does. But emotions are just little passing reflexes, like a twitch. In and of themselves, they mean nothing about who my husband is as a person, whether I love him or not, and whether we are meant to be together.

When thoughts like that came up, I’d just let them roll on by like clouds in the sky. I reminded myself I am human, and humans feel annoyed around other humans sometimes, no matter who the other person is.

3. I recognized that I was annoying myself.

HSPs need a lifestyle that involves plenty of true self-care and quiet time. Without it, we end up over-aroused, which predictably leads to irritability.

By not giving myself more downtime, by not planning it in, by not going on my walks more often, by going to bed later and later every night, and by filling in every spare moment with work so I could get it all done before I took a vacation — I was putting myself in a chronically over-aroused state, and therefore annoying myself.

In many cases, the amount of annoyance we feel is in direct proportion to our amount of self-care. In other words, if you feel annoyed, try adding some self-care.

So I did. When I could fit it in during the craziness of the holidays, I did. And as soon as the events were over, I carved out a bunch more quiet time and got back to enjoying myself.

The result of doing these three things?

Annoyance has been full-on replaced by natural and strong feelings of affection and appreciation for my husband. I’ve felt so much love for him, and he’s been returning the feelings.

That’s because it’s easy to love someone who is so obviously loving and enjoying you.

You can take the same steps I did to ease the annoyance you may feel at times. We all prefer to feel calm and at ease, and to genuinely love being with the person we’ve chosen to spend our life with — and be loved back! Sometimes we just need a bit more proactive effort to do so. It’s simply part of being a sensitive human living in hectic world.

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