Till death do you part
While I am certain I hardly ever irritate Mrs. B, and Lord knows I can't even say the word "irritate" in the same sentence as her name - he he he! - I wonder if it really took an academic study to reach this conclusion.
From the time I first heard reruns of The Bickersons, to the staged spats between Alice Faye and Phil Harris, to watching George and Weezy and Al and Peggy Bundy, to hearing my folks behind a closed bedroom door whisper sharply at one another so as to perpetuate the delusion to my sister and I that they never argued, it became clear to me that the longer you're around a significant other the more they pluck your nerves.
I'm only 2.5 years into this marriage thing, but even before I got hitched I always assumed that the irritation arose 'cause you are constantly around one another. She or he is there when you go to sleep - or at least they should be, unless they're working a night shift. She or he is there when you wake up. Irritation is inevitable.
Hell, I'm irritated right now with the people sitting on either side of me in my newsroom, just 'cause they're here and I see 'em every damn day. No other reason. And I'm not even married to them.
I'm kidding! Really. I love them all. And I'd be beside myself if I had to say do all my writing from home, from my front porch, with a glass of lemonade, some smooth jazz playing quietly, my dog laying at my feet, and no co-workers also chasing stories on the phones around me.
But seriously, I always admire elderly married couples, 'cause frankly I don't know how they've gone so long without stabbing one another with ice picks or poisoning one another's food or something.
When I was covering crime in Milwaukee, I had a case in which a wife was arrested and faced possible charges ranging from major battery to attempted murder, after she nearly beat the brains out of her husband with a frozen fish, 'cause he came home from work, saw what she'd made for dinner...again, and criticized her cooking. She was irritated.
Anyway, if you read the entire synopsis of that Michigan study you'll see that getting irritated with your spouse isn't necessarily a bad thing. The study says that couples over 60 seemed to report fewer problems with their spouses - the suggestion being that after a while they simply grew more comfortable with and less critical of their spouses' irritating habits.
Does that mean they simply wore down and gave up complaining, or they became more accepting over time?
Who knows? But maybe one day Mrs. B will stop leaving her boxers and shoes and yesterday's newspaper laying all over the house.
Wait a minute. I do that. Nevermind.