The First Lesson My Amazingly Wise Husband Ever Taught Me

At #TheLoft this week, we are sharing our best practical advice.  Having just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary, my mind is full of thoughts and tips on marriage.  I wrote this post a couple of years ago, and I couldn’t for the life of me come up with any advice better than this lesson my husband taught me oh, so long ago.  So here it is, slightly revised and polished up for you to enjoy.  Come on over to The Loft to get a week’s load of practical advice!

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I was feeling very mature.  Newly married, I had something to discuss with my beloved.  I had heard that it is the little things that will kill a marriage.  Things like leaving the cap off of the toothpaste, or putting the toilet paper on the roll the wrong way.  These minor offenses must be talked out so they don’t fester and cause the demise of your love, I was told.  So here I was, ready to tackle my first issue.

My new husband had this annoying habit.  He didn’t seem to know how to close the dresser drawers all the way.  It was the weirdest thing.  He would habitually leave them open about an inch or so.  It drove me nuts.  So I decided we would sit down and discuss it like civilized people.  He listened patiently as I calmly voiced my discontent in the sweetest way I could muster.  He then proceeded to give me the very reasoned explanation for his offense.  He explained that since he went to work before I was awake, he tried very hard to make as little noise as possible.  Thus, he closed the drawers as far as they would go before making scraping sounds that might mar his bride’s sleep.

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I suddenly felt very small.

I voiced my appreciation for his thoughtfulness.  I could see now that it was a rather petty little annoyance.  Desiring equity in our relationship, I then asked him to tell me if there was anything in my behavior that was bothering him.  Mature people talk these things out, I explained.  After all, I had read all of the magazine articles and books about this topic.  Keeping things bottled up would be the death of our marital bliss. All the experts agreed.

Then this insanely wise man that I married blew me away with his response.  He said that if I was doing something that bothered him, then he was the one with the problem, not me.  He said that he would deal with whatever it was since the problem was his.  If it was important, of course he would discuss it, but if it was not something earth-shattering then he didn’t feel it was worth making an issue of.  Wow.

I put his wisdom into practice that day, and I can honestly say that it is one of the best things I ever did.  From then on, if something was irritating me, I would ponder it for a time and ask myself a few questions.   Does this really need to change, or can I learn to live with it for the benefit of my spouse?  Is this something I can do for him that will bless him, rather than harp on him about it?  Is this actually an important issue in the big scheme of things?

Yes, occasionally there are real issues that need to be addressed.  Maybe 1% of the time.  The other 99% is just small stuff.  Things that don’t matter unless I choose to let them matter.  And I must admit that I soon found this way of thinking to be quite a relief!  I didn’t have to police his behavior anymore and I didn’t need to worry about him having issues with me.  The fact is, we are both imperfect people and the only way we would do this marriage gig well is to choose to offer grace freely.

Do I live this out perfectly?  Of course not.  In fact, I sometimes find it harder after 18 years to freely extend grace to my husband.  Why?  I suppose that I just get lazy.  You see, it’s easier at times to wallow in discontent and see myself as put-upon.  Choosing to put my mate before myself is much, much harder. I need the reminder every now and again that love is a choice.

May we always purpose to choose to love.  May we lovingly turn a blind eye to the imperfections of our loved ones and shower them with grace.  And who knows, perhaps those petty annoyances will become beloved quirks someday.  Now when I spy the dresser drawer cracked open a bit, I walk over and close it with a smile.

*(Colossians 3:12-14)   “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

 

**Photo by Gualberto 107, at freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

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24 thoughts on “The First Lesson My Amazingly Wise Husband Ever Taught Me

  1. Wow…this is so “on time” for me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put that way before. Like you were saying, I’ve heard that things should be talked out. This is a great perspective, though. Thank you for sharing, and thanks to your husband for some great wisdom! Thank you for sharing with us at The Loft!

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    • Hi Rebekah! Thanks for taking the time to read and for letting me know that it resonated with you. I know that I need to frequently reset my perspective about the ‘little things’. This bit of wisdom was actually something my husband learned in college about people management. I find that it helps me in many other relationships too. And it keeps me from being too self-focused, which is my natural default state. 🙂 Thanks again for stopping by. Blessings to you!

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  2. OH! MY! GOODNESS! My man does the very same thing…plus about a dozen other things that drive me mad. Sometimes I stew about them…sometimes I slam the draws shut. I had never considered the wisdom your husband shared…it’s about me and I need to examine me. He’s so right. Without a doubt, this is the best piece of advice for me personally that has been shared this week. Whew! I’ve got some self-examination to do. Thank you so much for joining us at The Loft.

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    • Thank you, Leah, for your comments. I think you distilled it down, that this topic is really about the need to examine self. I naturally want things to be comfortable for ME. I like things to be a certain way. And when my heart is too wrapped up in self I become easily offended. I find that owning my irritation has helped me in all sorts of relationships. It helps me to esteem others more highly than myself, which is far from my natural tendency. Thanks for reading, and may your day be blessed!

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  3. I donno. I know some couples function this way, but imagine the blessing you would have missed out on had you not talked with your husband about what was annoying you. You would never have known about how he worked to be loving you in that small way. You learned something about him that day and something about how he operated. We haven’t been married 20 years, just 12 but, we are happily married and part of that has been due to not letting things fester- especially the small stuff. BUT, as I said at the start, I know that each couple has their own dynamic and we each find our way of functioning best. Your husband communicated a mind-set and, really, a boundary that day. My husband doesn’t have that boundary, and I’m glad he doesn’t, because I wouldn’t survive in our marriage if I didn’t feel like I could go to him with the small stuff, knowing that he cares about what bothers me, and at least find out why he does what he does. As the years have passed, little things are less and less of an issue because when I went to him with them I learned more about him- I understand him so much better now then I did 12 years ago.

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    • You are right that all couples will have their own dynamics. (We know a couple that truly NEEDS to air their issues with a screaming match, followed by a steamy make up session. It honestly is what works for them and isn’t done in a particularly unhealthy way.) The infinite combinations of personality, upbringing, love languages etc. make it impossible to give a one size fits all piece of advice.

      The heart of his wisdom here is simply being others-centered. Not in a doormat sort of way, but in an ‘esteem others more highly than yourself’ sort of way. We do talk of the ‘little things’ if it matters to one of us, but I find that I think before I speak more if I keep his words in mind. And I often find that the small annoyances aren’t even worth hashing out if I look at them with a different perspective. I say often, but not always, of course.

      I think that I am, in part, rebelling against my late ’80’s-early ’90’s indoctrination of ‘never let a man get the upper hand’. The pop culture teaching that formed a large part of how I viewed relationships was incredibly self-centered and left no room for compromise.

      In the end, I think that in all human relationships we are called to bless others. To think less of our own comfort, and more of how we can actively show love to those in our sphere. Again, not in an abusive or doormat way. Simply in a way that would best reflect Jesus.

      I’m glad that you and your husband have found a comfortable way to work things through. I also like what you pointed out–it was indeed a blessing that I brought that issue up to my man. Here’s to a lifetime of learning more about our spouses, and loving them better and better, yes?

      Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful perspective. Grace and peace to you.

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  4. Oh, this is good, and stung a little, too. I often find myself irritated by such “little things,” but never thought of it as being petty before. Your husband is indeed wise, and I’m thankful to be reading this today. Great advice! I’m stopping by from #TheLoft and will be sharing this around, too.
    Jen 🙂

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    • Hi Jen! Your comment made me smile, because in rereading this post I was feeling a little sting too! 😉 I need a reset every now and then–to remember that it’s not all about me and how I want my world to run. I’m just grateful that I’m married to a wise and laid back man. He should get a medal for putting up with my silliness sometimes! Blessings to you, Jen. Have a great remainder of your week!

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  5. That was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for sharing that. I have been married 4 yrs and I get bothered by those small things and your right. I think I just needed to hear it like this. Thank you for sharing.

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    • I’m so glad this spoke to you. Marriage is hard sometimes! In my own journey, the Lord repeatedly brings me back to ‘esteeming others more highly than myself’. It’s not always easy, but is worth it every time! Thanks for reading, and for your comment. I’m praying that the Lord will give you fresh eyes toward your spouse, and that your marriage will grow deeper and richer for it! Grace and peace to you–

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  6. Great post, Rebeca. I still remember when the Lord showed me that years ago. “Stop blaming others. Nothing someone does can make you mad if you choose to NOT get mad,” he said. And then I started seeing what dumb little things were setting me off, and I, too, felt small. So few things are a real big deal; why do we choose to turn them into mountains?

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