Being a relative newcomer to both XML and relational databases I too find them annoying.
in reply to Re^2: I dislike object-oriented programming in general
in thread I dislike object-oriented programming in general
In my case this is because I do not as yet fully understand their mechanics and as a result I am irritated at not being able to do what I would like to do.
However I doubt that that is the reason for your feelings.
I would be interested to know why you feel XML and relational databases to be "annoying and counterproductive".