I love that look in a newlywed’s eyes as she talks about her husband and how he is so wonderful, she will follow him anywhere, and he has no faults.
Ok, he has some faults.
Well, he leaves his socks on the floor all over the house. Or he throws his bellybutton lint in the sink. Or he squeezes the toothpaste tube in the wrong place. Or he won’t keep the bed sheets tucked in at the foot of the bed.
And she’ll go on and on about how “cute” these things are, all the while either vocally or silently stewing to the point of explosion over it because, well it wasn’t supposed to be this way. What a stupid thing. And why does he have to be this way?
For me, it was the socks thing. My husband insisted on taking his socks off and leaving them wherever. He said they weren’t dirty enough to wash. But my argument was that they must not be clean enough to wear again either because they never got worn again.
It drove me CRAZY! I had never seen him do this in college, or at his mom’s house.
But he did it at our house. And I knew I had to fix it before it was too late.
I took the advice of many other women before me that I had to train this behavior out of my husband.
I brought it up in discussions where it didn’t matter.
I used it as a bargaining tool.
I made snide and sarcastic remarks about it.
I gave ultimatums.
And you know what? There were still socks on my living room floor most of the time.
Now I’m not saying that this is the best idea for everyone. I totally agree that there should be mutual respect in a marriage – especially in the light of simply making more work for the other person. But for me, I realized something.
He wasn’t being malicious. He wasn’t being hurtful. He was just forgetful. And laundry is not one of the important chores in the house to him.
So I let it go.
Yup. As simple as that. I just pick up the socks when I see them and throw them in the wash. Sometimes I get complaints that he was going to wear those particular socks again. Occasionally I let them sit for a while to see if he will wear them again (usually not).
But I don’t stew about it. I don’t comment on it. I just pick them up and move on.
I stopped expecting him to change because I willed it. Instead, I realized that it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Are there things that are a big deal? Absolutely. But I’m not talking about those things.
I’m talking about the little things. The ones that creep under your skin and slowly get so big that one day you pop. And a problem, like this, once popped, tends to become more bothersome.
If I believe (and I do) that my husband is of general good-will to me and has mine and our family’s best interest at heart, then I can say “Hey, everyone has their things. So his is leaving socks all over. Big deal.” And pick them up.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 sums up pretty well my thought process on this one:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (emphasis mine)
I could keep track of every sock I pick up in our marriage, or how long it took me to train him. I could get angry, knowing that it will happen again.
Or I can be patient, knowing that he, too, has to deal with traits in me that aren’t pleasant, like the fact that I never replace the hand towel in the bathroom or leave a mountain of dishes every time I cook (every day) and tend to let stuff dry in them, because why would I bother to RINSE the dishes?
And I can be kind. I can say something like “Babe, my concern with you leaving socks all over the house is that, one day, the kids will realize you do this and they will do it too. Then not only will there be socks everywhere but I will be spending a lot of time cleaning them up.” And then let God work on the timing of when this habit will change, if ever.
I know, I know. Some of you are thinking that I’m being a doormat. On the contrary. Before, I was an argumentative wife, which Proverbs warns against. Now, I seek wisdom in prayer for the right balance of silence vs. speaking, and then for which words to say. I try to not be emotional and long-winded, but rather speak truth in love.
But I can’t change my husband. Only God can. And I have to remember that in any interaction.
Again, I would like to reiterate that I’m talking about the small stuff here. If you’re husband is committing a serious offense against you, try some Matthew 18. (Nina has tons of blogs on it, like this one.)
Dare you today to think of a habit that your husband has, something you nag him about, and really pray that you can let it go. And then don’t make a big deal out of it – not that you let it go or that he still does it. Pray for wisdom, and the right balance of words and silence for your marriage.
How about you? What is something that you just “let go” of? Or did you “train” your husband? In either situation, how did it show respect to your husband? Would you share with us?
*photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/qusic/939409722/in/photolist-2r1HMm-2uLPCu-2W1zmN-3bsbkP-3xRrYa-3YRLD7-3YRNtL-4khp5f-4mo6VP-4svP9g-4sLS3U-4DxumF-4RyCBh-4YXUmt-51p7Mj-5byUD4-5dht32-5dmNL7-5eiz4M-5eizgK-5enXv7-5enXNw-5enXVN-5uZzzH-5AtP5p-5F6CRo-5FK9LX-5FKa74-5KP2NU-5Tpdyq-611CLC-62548h-65uaij-6gWfRF-6pZ3yy-6rQcsC-6GXJUv-6GXJVr-6H2NEA-6H2NH1-74M5pd-76bR5E-77gUYV-7assRh-7cPo1E-7v3YpF-7v7MWW-7v7Npo-dJbkeb-bxBt8p-esUPW1/lightbox/
My husband has the knack of leaving a few little dishes in the sink at night so when I get up the next morning expecting a clean sink, well it’s not! For many years it bothered me and sometimes I would make comments about it (i.e. is a knife that hard to clean and put in the dish drainer?), but I would get the offended response of “Sorry I left one thing dirty in the sink!” It was time to get over it and just wash it myself and move on. My biggest pet peeve is dirty dishes left behind in the sink and it happens constantly and I seem to be the only one washing them, but I get over it and move on, after I wash them. Sometimes I stew about it silently, but then the Lord is so good and gives me a peace about it. At least I have dishes to wash and a husband who loves me regardless! I am blessed and sometimes the little things seem like huge things, but in all accounts they really are small things that the enemy tries to use to infiltrate and bring dissension in your marriage! Don’t let him bring out the worst in you. Let the Lord bring out the best!
Kathy Bobulsky says
This was such a perfect blog Leah! Hit home for me big time. My hubby has adult ADD, which boils down to the fact that he forgets almost everything (including socks). Forgets..or rather gets distracted. It’s not that he doesn’t “care”, I’ve come to realize, it’s more that he needs to attend to the important things in on his agenda. He honestly does not “see” these minor details, that I tend to be OCD about. You are spot-on that it’s so much more Christ-like to go along & pick up after his “trail” then to nag about it. And the results are a peaceful household! ~ Kathy B.
Leah, our husbands might be related. 😉
I’ve had a couple of issues like this in our long marriage, but finally one day the Lord just changed my focus. I had grown up wanting to be a wife and mother, not working outside the home, too, and God, (and my hubby), was gracious to honor that desire. So, here I was with my dream job, and I began to think of those little things as “job security.” It might be silly, but over the years, it has made all the difference.
We always have the opportunity to see things differently. If I don’t like that the tube of toothpaste is crusty, why not buy a separate tube? If he doesn’t like broccoli, why not make a second vegetable for dinner or just make one we both like? God is awesome at changing our perspective! I like Patty’s comment about “job security” too. 🙂