5 Unexpected Ways Your Home Might Be Affecting Your Relationship
The experts weigh in.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:50 AM
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Most couples who move in together learn to adapt to their partner’s quirks. They’ll get the mail when their S.O. forgets, let them have control of the remote when their show is on, or blow out a candle when they accidentally leave it burning. Sure, they might also begrudgingly clean up after their partner’s messes to avoid arguments—and eventually those little annoyances could blow up into a bigger fight.
Admittedly, communication is key in any relationship, but you might not be able to articulate why living with your partner has started to weigh on your nerves. To help, we connected with licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz and dating expert Damona Hoffman to find out which ways your home could be putting pressure on your relationship—and how to fix them.
Those Immediate After-Work Convos
While some people look forward to talking to their partner right when they get home, others prefer to be alone to decompress from their workday. Unfortunately, these two polarizing ideas can cause tension and stress, which can make home life a little less chill.
“This difference can cause hurt feelings for the one who wants to chat right away and added stress for the one who doesn’t. The solution to this dilemma is to communicate your needs and expectations, and explain why you have those expectations,” says Schewitz. “To compromise, a partner can go for a walk alone to decompress before coming home, [or the other] can go to a group workout class after work to give their partner some space.”
That Sofa You Didn’t Buy Together
Even though sitting on a velvet sofa might not be a big deal for you, it could irritate your partner if they’re particular about the kind of fabrics they want to sit or lie on. “Key pieces like beds, sofas, and dining tables must be places where the two of you are both comfortable, so you may need to find room for compromise,” says Hoffman.
It’s not necessarily that your S.O. is trying to cramp your style, though. “As many as 20 percent of adults have sensory sensitivity, so certain fabrics could set your partner off,” she explains. “If you know they have a preference for a particular texture, you have to understand that it’s something that they likely can’t explain and can’t control.”
That Impromptu Dinner Party You Hosted
Let’s be honest: No one wants to make their partner feel bad for wanting to have people over. However, you also don’t want your significant other to feel uncomfortable in their own home when all they want to do is go to bed. “Couples often have different opinions on houseguests. If you love having parties and inviting people to hang out until the wee hours of the morning, you’re going to have an issue if your partner prefers to wind down at 10 p.m.,” says Hoffman.
Before inviting company over, Hoffman advises that you “have a clear conversation with your partner about their comfort level with guests, the length of time they’d like them to stay, and any rules or specific preferences they have for the home.” That way, you can land on a compromise so your S.O. doesn’t feel like they also have to socialize with your friends if they’re just not in the mood.
The Bed You Share
If you’re having a weekly brawl with your partner about who’s stealing the comforter in the middle of the night, you may want to dig a little deeper as to why you might be having this argument in the first place. “When couples fight over something like a comforter, it’s never really about the comforter,” says Hoffman. “It’s usually a by-product of one person operating independently in what is supposed to be a partnership and not taking the other person’s needs into consideration.”
Admittedly, though, sometimes it is about the comforter. If you don’t want to solve the problem by sleeping in separate beds, you have a few options. “First, you have to acknowledge that it’s an issue. Then you’ll have the opportunity to find a solution together, whether it’s getting a larger comforter, getting two separate comforters, or learning to live with the fact that the comforter hog does this unconsciously. Either way, you have to find a way to make sure both of your needs are met,” says Hoffman.
That Candle You Keep Burning
You may love your salted grapefruit candle. But unfortunately, if your partner seems to get cranky when you burn it, chances are it’s best to retire it—for perfectly scientific reasons.
“Scent is the sense that is most tied to memory and is often the most sensitive for people. If your partner asks you not to use a certain fragrance in the home, keep in mind that the smell might trigger a memory or an uncomfortable feeling that they don’t want to experience every time they walk in the house,” says Hoffman. “Sometimes this connection is unconscious and is expressed as a dislike for a certain smell. If you know it bothers your partner, find another way to keep your home smelling nice.” Consider this an excuse to go candle shopping for something you’ll both love.
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