I didn’t even consider that it could be bothersome until he brought it up, but I suppose it’s that way with lots of things. You’re going to find some things your spouse does annoying. No qualms about it. The difference of how it affects you long-term will be dependent on how you respond.
He began with, “It’s like when you leave your flatiron out every single time when you go to work. I could get mad about having to put it up every day.”
We sat side by side in our truck going down the road, and we talked about the key to a happy marriage in our mind’s eye.
We agreed as we talked about healthy relationships that continued happiness was dependent upon being able to see beyond individual, personal needs. To stay content in marriage it was important to place yourself in the other person’s shoes. So you couldn’t just focus solely on how a situation affected you, or focus only on your contribution to the relationship. You had to see what your partner was feeling, their sacrifices as well, and you couldn’t forget that you both were human and made mistakes.
He continued, “I had to remember that you were in a hurry when you left in the morning, so your straightener would be too hot to put away.”
So something that could potentially be annoying to him, like putting my flatiron away every day, became less annoying when he took the focus off himself. Instead of just looking at the fact that he was putting it away, he realized my position. He understood my limitations, my reasoning, and by considering those things he realized it wasn’t an issue worth being upset about. It wasn’t like I was leaving it out on purpose for him to put away, and in the grand scheme of life, it wasn’t even that big of a deal.
This was just one example, but we both could have thought of multiple instances like this one in our day-to-day life. The fact is that living with someone is hard. You have differences, idiosyncrasies, and differing opinions on matters. You can always find something to disagree on. You can always find something that makes you irritated. Most of the time they’re even small issues, but when these tiny situations pile up on one another they create a bigger problem. They create feelings of unfairness, feelings of not being appreciated, and feelings of being taken advantage of. But if instances are dealt with properly as they occur they’re less likely to be a toppling mountain of an issue later on.
Things like irritation over dirty socks left on the floor can be seen for what they are. A small issue; not a deal breaker.
In a marriage, if you only focus on your contribution you’ll become easily bitter. A housewife will become angry at a husband who never helps around the house, and a husband working outside the home will become angry that his wife doesn’t appreciate being able to stay at home. And vice versa! Anyone can always become angry about anything and feel like they’re giving more to the partnership, that they’re not appreciated, and that they’re being taken advantage of. But usually, if they can take the focus off themselves and look at the other person they’ll see it’s not what they thought.
Now that’s not to say that every marriage is equal, or that in every relationship each partner does their honest best. But in many instances marital strife comes not from uneven contributions; it comes due to selfishness. A focus solely on self always clouds one’s judgment. Personally, I found that my marriage is a lot happier when I can appreciate my spouse’s contributions and position for why he does the things he does. When I walk a mile in his shoes I can see that my trek isn’t that bad, and my husband also strives to see me in the same loving, unconditional light.
This morning I left out my flatiron again. After all, it was too hot for me to put away. But as I looked down at the hot pink, hair styling tool I smiled at thoughts of how wonderful it was to have a husband who didn’t mind putting it away for me.