The One Thing I Stopped Doing to Improve My Marriage

You might be surprised what this wife quit doing.

— -- (Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on It has been reprinted here with permission. The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of both ABC News and Babble.)

In all likelihood, if you’re a woman with a husband, you do this. If you don’t, congrats. You’re a more evolved human than I am. It’s no one’s fault, I daresay.

I would even go so far as to purport that it is in our genetic makeup, this annoying little thing that we do as women, to our men … which is to annoy the ever-loving crap out of them.

Sometimes we realize when we’re doing it. Sometimes we don’t. What I do know is that we often do it when we’re annoyed with them, too.

Whether they’ve done the laundry incorrectly (hello, shrunken wool sweaters), loaded the dishwasher all wrong, didn’t give the kids a bath or let them stay up an hour past bedtime, it’s usually something. (Clearly, this is not everyone’s scenario, lots of dads stay home while mom goes out to work, or both parents work outside of the home. But it’s usually something.)

I could go on with a litany of reasons in which many a woman proclaims to be annoyed with her husband, and there are a ton of ridiculous things that we do, too.

More on Babble:

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There’s lots of advice out there on how to improve your marriage. Some shouldering the blame (10 Things a Wife Can Do to Stop Annoying Their Husband) and some dividing it more equally (10 Things We Did to Improve Our Marriage). I’m not fussed either way. Sometimes it comes down to one person in a relationship taking responsibility and making a change, and this one was all for me. (And it’s just one thing, I promise.)

So when I recognized this one mistake and changed it (the suspense must be killing you!), the results have really been quite miraculous. All of a sudden my husband stopped doing things to annoy me or make my life more difficult and we got off the merry-go-round.

And, in actuality, I’ve learned to ease up a bit. I’ve let go of how I expect him to be, or what I expect him to do (and how to do it) and re-established how much I love and appreciate him for the way he is. It can be a slippery slope to Resentmentville when a husband and wife start trying to change each other, constantly not living up to one another’s expectations. You lose sight of each other, and you stop appreciating your differences.

I’m not saying it’s been easy, the stopping of this one little thing. Oh, it’s hard. So hard to bite my tongue with (not so) subtle reminders like, “fold all the laundry together in individual little piles, it’ll be so much easier to put away!”

Or, “please remember to sort the laundry!” Or, directions on how to brush our daughters wild mane of tight little ringlets and wayward curls, or how to dress our kids appropriately for the weather, or how to console them better, etc.

Basically? I stopped treating my husband like a child.

Yea, that. So much easier said than done. Oh, I could rationalize all of the ways I am completely justified for saying and doing the things I say and do to make it known to my husband that I think he’s doing things wrong. And when it comes right down to it, who makes me the ultimate judge of all that is right in our parenting world?

I’m very particular about how I do things. Both as a mother and as someone who takes care of our home. And, of course, we are often polar opposites in both of these things. Lucky us.

What I’ve come to realize is that while we both have to make compromises and make some changes to meet each other half way and respect our relationship enough to want to do less triggering or annoyingly disruptive, everyday things to each other; much of what I’m talking about right now is a classic tale of the sexes, age-old really.

But it doesn’t have to have a stronghold on my relationship anymore. I’ve realized slowly and with increasing admiration that my husband has his own, quirky (oftentimes maddening) way of doing things and while he can surely learn to do laundry well enough that everything isn’t pink, perhaps I can keep my precious woolens out of the mix and do them my own damn self.

Perhaps when I go away for work myself (or go out in the evening for any reason I please), I won’t come home to a destroyed house. And if I do? Say nothing. Not a peep.

Perhaps he’ll realize that by letting the kids stay up late on a school night it makes my life a living hell the next morning, and instead of doing whatever he wants in spite of knowing this, he’ll make a conscious choice to consider the domino effect of his “innocent,” “easy-going” personality.

And I’ll appreciate that he’s not doing this stuff out of malice, only out of love for his kids and the strong pull he has to just play with them after being away all day.

What I’ve observed so far in my little conscious experiment of not treating my husband like a child has worked very much in my favor. The less I “innocently” remind, or less innocently chastise, the better my husband and I parent together, while simultaneously annoying each other way less!

I think, maybe, I’m onto something here. I am, in fact, parenting two children, not three, and I need to stop joking around about the three-kid scenario.

We all do. Our husbands, our kids’ fathers, they deserve better. And so do we.