In a recent conference, a speaker shared that in marriage, or in relationships in general, that it takes five good interactions to counteract the effects of one bad interaction.
My thoughts on the matter amount to the following. In marriage, for most of us, that translates to one of two things: either we alter our behavior to reduce the number of bad interactions or we drastically increase the number of good interactions. For me, I am an introvert with a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth even when I intend to convey a compliment. So the chances that every one of the five potentially good interactions ending well is not high.
For me, the best bet is to reduce the number of intentionally bad interactions. The funny thing that I have noticed is that my annoyance with my family has more to do with the behaviors of my students and coworkers than it does with what the members of the family actually do... or don't do.
For example, I find myself getting really annoyed at my kids for playing video games when I have had to listen to excuses from students about the reasons they missed class and the midnight release of "Call of Halo's Duty 4". The same goes for my wife, who had no control over a verbose coworker who extended a Friday afternoon meeting beyond the allotted time.
I guess my point is that there are really four people in the world who are the closest to me emotionally and physically (and another 20 or so family and friends). They rarely actually do things that annoy me, but because I am not free to show my annoyance towards the other 7.5 billion people in the world, I often let fly on them, because they will forgive me. They have to... they are family.
And so, I would like to apologize to them. They so often feel the brunt of my frustration and I am grateful for their willingness to forgive. But I know that it does take a toll and I resolve to reduce the times that I allow them to feel my frustration towards others.