Husbands are very different creatures than single men. Perhaps it’s just an inevitable side effect of sharing pretty much everything with another human being, but married men can be pricklier and more prone to annoyance. Things that never would have gotten under their skin during their unmarried days are suddenly incredibly grating. So, if you feel like testing your hubby’s limits—you know, just for fun—here are 31 things that are all but guaranteed to rile him up.
1. Pointing out where he’s balding.
Look, there is such a thing as constructive criticism… and then there’s any acknowledgment whatsoever of a receding hairline. You can bet that your husband is acutely aware of the situation—he sees the hair in the shower drain every morning—but that doesn’t mean he wants to be reminded of it.
(Free tip: If you really want to get on his nerves, make suggestions about how he can reverse the hair loss, such as, “Maybe you should wear fewer hats.” Then, sit back and watch the vein throb on his very bare forehead.)
2. Being a backseat driver.
Even if a guy has no clue where he’s going, his pride won’t let him ask for directions. And that includes getting advice from anyone else in the car, no matter how useful it might be. Backseat driving bothers him so much because it suggests his innate sense of direction isn’t infallible—which, of course, it isn’t, but he doesn’t want you to know that. “You should’ve taken a left back there” is a sentence that burns into a man’s soul deeper than “I want a divorce.”
3. Putting your freezing cold feet on him while you’re both under the covers.
Just when your husband’s gotten comfortable under the covers, your ice cold feet come toward him like a missile, rubbing against his warm skin and sending a chill down his spine. It’s funny to you, but, to him, it’s an act of unprovoked hostility.
4. Inviting the cat to sleep in bed.
Once a cat is welcome in the marital bed, that’s it. Game over. A husband now might as well be a guest in his own bedroom. A cat won’t sleep gingerly at the foot of the bed; oh no, it’s going to take over, and sprawl for as much available space as it can occupy. A husband co-sleeping with a cat is lucky to get a sliver of covers, and he’s definitely not getting to spoon his spouse anytime in the foreseeable future.
5. Posting embarrassing photos of him on social media.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that, when it comes to posting photos on Facebook or Instagram, husbands aren’t the same as your kids. They’re going to get irked when they find out you’ve been sharing photos of them looking silly with hundreds of strangers. And, sorry, but it won’t matter how often you tell him he looks adorable. That may work on a five-year-old, but your husband knows he’s just been turned into an easy punch line.
6. Asking him, “You’re not wearing that, are you?”
Even if it’s an honest question, he’ll suspect that it’s really code for, “You look ridiculous.” A husband determined to make his own fashion choices still lacks confidence in his personal aesthetics. He knows that what he considers “formal” is likely vastly different than your definition.
7. Not being all that impressed with Field of Dreams.
If you can make it through that movie and not cry, you must be dead inside, as far as most husbands are concerned. Remember when Ray (Kevin Costner) meets the ghost of his dead dad and asks him, “Wanna have a catch?’’ And his dad says, “I’d like that?” Oh, it kills us every time. All you have to do to make your husband lose his marbles is shrug your shoulders at that scene and say, “Meh.”
8. Asking an unanswerable question like, “Do you think the new neighbor’s attractive?”
Oh, these are always fun. There’s absolutely no way of answering a question like this without getting a raised eyebrow in return. Say no, and he’s being unnecessarily mean. Say yes, and, well, he’s got some ‘splainin to do.
9. Spending beyond your family’s means.
We all like to splurge on ourselves occasionally. But it’s also important to keep things in perspective. When a spouse uses spending sprees as a form of stress relief, dropping more money on unnecessary items than their family’s budget can allow, it puts their husband in the super-fun position of being a financial parent to his own spouse. There are few things as uncomfortable and awkward to say to your spouse as, “Honey, we need to talk about this credit card bill.”
10. Claiming you’re not hungry, then eating off his plate.
Yes, every husband is well aware of this behavior—otherwise known as the “Stealing His Fries When You Said You Didn’t Want Fries” Principal. If you’re hungry, why don’t you just order some food? It’s a question that has flummoxed husbands for generations. (That’s right: Many men aren’t fully aware of the long history of women feeling like they have to look a certain way for men, which means avoiding certain foods.)
11. Hiding the remote.
Husbands love to control the remote. If it’s missing, they’re a king without their castle, ruling over exactly nothing. Even if you hide it someplace they could feasibly locate it, just five minutes of searching a living room for a missing remote can cause the kind of male hysterics only seen from Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes.
12. Leaving your clothing everywhere.
Standing lamps, dining room chairs, living room couches—they can all be used for draping clothes. If the entire house becomes your closet, you’re driving your husband up the wall.
13. Talking to him in a baby voice.
A baby voice can be like nails on a chalkboard to many husbands. It’s especially irritating if he suspects that you’re trying to be flirtatious. Yes, he wants your amorous attention, but when your voice sounds like a creepy talking baby from Looney Tunes, there goes his desire for cuddling.
14. Sending him to the store with a list of impossible-to-find items.
The cookie always seems to crumble this way: When it’s his turn to go grocery shopping, it’s also time to stock up on the most infuriatingly hidden items in the store. In any supermarket, refried beans are never where they should be. (Why are they in the “Latin” section and not with the other beans?!)
15. Filling the bed with a mountain of pillows.
If husbands were in charge of bedroom décor, there would be only two pillows: one for each of you. But wives go a little overboard with the pillows, in every conceivable size and texture. There are decorative pillows and euro sham pillows and tiny throw pillows and pillows specifically designed for battling knee pain. Load up the bed with so many pillows that he’s not even sure where to begin making room for himself, and you’ll have succeeded in annoying him without saying a single word.
16. Conquering the closet.
If you really want to rankle his ire, take over every last inch of the shared closet like you’re Napoleon conquering Europe. Maybe be nice and give him a bottom drawer barely big enough to contain his socks. (Hey, if he wanted a place to hang his suits, he should have acted faster!) Oh, and remind him that there’s plenty of space in the garage.
17. Dinging his toughness.
Never is a man more agitated than after learning he’s not nearly as tough as he thinks he is. But if you had just about enough of his whining over hangnails or pinched muscles, you could always fall back on the trump card: Remind him of the inconceivable pain involved in giving birth to a human being. No man can come back from that slap-down.
18. Blatantly lying about how close you are to being ready.
“Just a minute, I’m almost done!” Yeah, you already said that. Twice. And that was 10 minutes ago! In five minutes flat, most husbands can go from being unwashed and still in their pajamas to being fully dressed and ready to face the world. So they’ll never fully understand if their spouse has a few extra steps. The only thing they know for sure is, it’s going to be at least another 10 minutes.
19. Making medium-sized decisions that affect him without getting his input.
Not to a ridiculous extent—you probably don’t want to sell a home or commit to moving to a new state without at least consulting your life partner—but sometimes it’s fun to do something consequential without first taking his temperature. Like, say, painting your bedroom an entirely new color. Or adopting a pet. Or donating that dusty DVD collection in the basement to Goodwill.
20. Not even pretending to care about the things he loves.
All of us—both husbands and wives—have our weird little obsessions. Most of the time, a kind spouse will smile and pretend to show even a modicum of interest. And sometimes, well, a spouse just can’t be bothered. Like when The Godfather trilogy is playing on cable and he’s giddy with excitement, but you can barely manage a yawn. Or if his favorite sports team makes it to the championship and you won’t even look up from your phone. Husbands claim it doesn’t matter, but trust us, it gets under our skin.
21. Calling him “just to chat.”
If you’re calling your husband to ask where the extra coffee filters are, there’s a clear purpose for the call. He’ll appreciate this. But if you’re calling just to tell him about some hilarious podcast you just heard, you might be encroaching on his Me Time—which is something we could all use more of.
22. Using his razor.
A husband can always tell when his spouse has been using his razor. Suddenly, the blade that once gilded so smoothly across his cheek feels like a garden rake. You won’t get away with it!
23. Never filling the car with gas (even when the low fuel warning light comes on).
It’s not that you don’t understand the importance of gasoline in making cars move, of course. You’re just more entertained by how your husband gets utterly baffled when you “forgot” to swing by the gas station yet again. We get it.
24. Forgetting to put laundry in the dryer.
Anyone can start a load of laundry, but it takes a real commitment to remember to take the wet clothes out of the washer and put them in the dryer. Some spouses don’t always get to this step, which makes husbands want to rip out their hair (or what remains of it) in frustration. Hey, they’ve got two arms, they can change the laundry as well as anyone. If husbands don’t want their shirts to get moldy from being left in a damp washer all night, they should have done something about it.
25. “Cleaning up” his stuff without telling him where you’re putting it.
When the home gets a thorough cleaning, things have a way of…disappearing. Things like clothing, important paperwork, that magazine he was right in the middle of reading. Sure, it’s a bit of a stereotype, but a lot of men love and live by a system of organized chaos. Finding that it’s been swept away, and that everything is now… someplace else, can send any guy into a minor existential panic, and exasperate him for weeks as he tries to locate everything all over again.
26. Contradicting him in front of others.
A husband isn’t always right—far from it. He can and will put his foot in his mouth as much as anybody. But that’s no reason to publicly humiliate him by pointing out exactly how badly he’s messed up the facts. Especially if he’s surrounded by family or friends, pointing out why he couldn’t be more wrong about whatever it is he’s talking about is just making a fool of him for no good reason.
27. Bringing up past relationships.
If there’s one topic a husband never wants to discuss with his spouse, it’s past flings: all those past boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s a conversational minefield that’s guaranteed not to have a happy ending. What could he possibly tell you about his exes that won’t make you jealous? And spoiler alert, every detail you share about an ex-boyfriend, both good and bad, is only going to make him lose sleep. He’ll stare at the bedroom ceiling and wonder why you brought up ol’ what’s-his-face, the jerk you used to date, in the first place.
28. Scrolling through his texts and emails.
It’s not that he has something to hide, it’s that husbands take any auditing of their personal texts and emails as a violation of trust, proof that their spouse thinks they need checking up on. Nobody reads a spouse’s inbox because they’re looking for witty bon mots and evidence that they married a modern Oscar Wilde. No, they’re looking for dirt and everyone knows it. (Also, some of our text exchanges with our mothers can be downright embarrassing. The less you know, the better.)
29. Changing his ringtone to your kids’ favorite song.
Every guy has at least one least-loved ditty that his kids have played on a constant loop. The all-too-familiar melody is now enough to drive him to madness. Bonus points if he’s not entirely clear how to change the ringtone back!
30. Trying to “change” him.
Successfully changing a husband into the type of person you want him to be rather than accepting him as the flawed but lovable man you married has worked exactly 0 percent of the time. Trying it again and again is a recipe for annoyance.
31. Saying “everything is fine.”
It most definitely is not. And to be the best partner you can possibly be, don’t miss the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time.
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