I spoke at a women’s event last week, and I mentioned how we need to deal with the little things of marriage or take the chance that they may turn into insurmountable problems that lead to divorce. The little things are the beginning of divorce - like toilet seats and toothpaste tubes – when not resolved.
As I watched all the women shaking their heads “yes”, I told them that sounds like a great title for my next book, “Divorce Begins with the Toilet.” (Hmm. MY husband didn’t find this nearly as humorous as I did.)
Every new bride is forced into reality the first time she bottoms out in the toilet, half-asleep, in the middle of the night. Her husband neglected to put the seat down. Thus begins the decay of happily-ever-after as she ponders, “If he really loved me he’d remember to put the toilet seat down!” Most men don’t have a clue why this is such an issue for us ladies. My practical husband says, “Can’t you look first?”
In defense of men I have to ask, what written rule says the toilet seat needs to be down all the time? I would imagine in fraternity houses the seats are usually up. (Of course they also need to be sat upon once in a while). Maybe the obvious answer would be to always close the lid after use, then the next user will know what to expect.
The point is that we don’t always deal with these small defenses because they seem so – small. If we don’t figure out just how to deal with them, what do we do when the big issues come around? It’s great practice to come to a compromise on something that seems insignificant.
In my marriage, I’m a bit neater than Rick. (Okay, a LOT neater.) I’ve had to learn to lower my standards of cleanliness while he has raised his over the years. He still tells me, though, “Can’t you just step over my underwear on the floor like I do?”
If we don’t deal with the small issues, they will compound into frustration and anger that masks itself as a bigger issue. These issues continue to gather into a large snowball of, what may seem to be, insurmountable problems. A wayward child, a meddling in-law, financial difficulties or any marital setback becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back and leads a couple to divorce. Their answer for their split - irreconcilable differences. Reconcile your differences while they are still small. They WILL build up into a mountain of resentment if you don’t. A small pile of frustration is easily fixed while a large mountain of anger can seem undefeatable. To many, it is easier to call it quits than to tear down that mountain.
So how do you deal with the little things? You need to talk about them when you are both in a rational state. Remember, never say never. Ladies, don’t say “You never put the toilet seat down.” Instead, it would be easier for you to say, “It is frightening to fall into the toilet in the middle of the night because it’s dark and I’m half-asleep and the seat is up. Would you please try to put it down when you’re finished, especially at nighttime?” Or, you could both agree to keep the lid closed when not in use. That way you are both being pro-active and considerate of the other’s needs. Find a compromise.
When we do have little issues that we can’t seem to agree about, maybe one person has to back off and sacrifice their will. For example, if it drives you crazy how your husband gets his toothpaste from the top of the tube rather than the bottom, maybe you should just get your own tube. Is it really worth the frustration and the stress it causes in your relationship? We are all different, and in marriage you have to be aware of those differences and learn to compromise.
Ephesians 5:21 says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
In marriage, when we put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own (submission), the little things no longer become issues.