Your Marriage is More Important Than the Laundry
Or, what I learned when I decided I’d rather be happy than always be right!
Your marriage is more important than the laundry
It sounds silly when I say it, doesn’t it? However, too much arguing is one of the top reasons for divorce in this country. It’s so easy to fall victim to this trap. You see a pile of dirty laundry, once again, sitting NEXT to the laundry basket and you go into a tailspin, “How difficult is it?! He never puts his laundry in the hamper. He leaves the toilet seat up. He never helps around the house.” The next thing you know, you’ve talked yourself into a bad mood that could easily last all day.
Does this scenario sound all too familiar? It’s easy to pick at the flaws in others, especially those with whom we spend the most time, like our spouse and children. What if I told you it didn’t have to be that way? My husband and I recently celebrated our third year of marriage and these days, we almost never fight anymore. The early days of our marriage…. that was a different story.
Below, we are pictured, happy and clueless on our wedding day!
Why are we always fighting?
Allen and I dated for several years and had been friends for over a decade before we decided to get married. We knew everything about each other. We were so optimistic. It would be EASY, we thought. We were so obviously wrong. Shortly after getting married, we began to fight about everything. Silly little things. He couldn’t remember to put the toilet seat down. I would never remember to buy the deodorant he liked. I told you a dozen times! The one in the blue package! We would fight over the most trivial things. What was the problem? We loved each other madly.
Then one day, it hit me. It wasn’t that my husband didn’t help around the house, it was that he didn’t help around the house the way I thought he should. This was a huge revelation for me. He had taken his clothes to the laundry room, why was it so important that they go in the basket? He had brought his dishes to the sink. Why was it so important that he put them in the dishwasher? Didn’t he do all kinds of things I wouldn’t do? (Mow the lawn, take out the trash….) Then, the revelations kept coming. Was it possible that it irked him that I had never once offered to help with the yard work and I assumed that if I let the garbage pile up high enough, that eventually he would take it out? Holy smokes. What a breakthrough.
Change your heart to change your marriage
So, instead of trying to change my husband, instead, I set out to change my attitude. Let me tell you, the results were instant. Instead of coming at him with a combative attitude, thinking, “Why don’t you….” and “You never…” instead, I looked at him from a place of gratitude. I really appreciated not having to do the yard work or assemble the cheap Ikea furniture. If nothing else, it was nice to stop feeling like a martyr and instead to feel like one half of a cohesive whole.
When I started looking at my husband from this new point of view and stopped nagging him to do things my way, what do you know…. he started doing the same! “I really appreciate you using coupons to save us tons of money on groceries, sweetheart.” He said to me one night, out of the blue. I felt so proud that he had recognized that I was doing that to try and save money for us, not because I actually liked clipping coupons (Who does?) Then, I started trying to think of ways I could maximize this warm fuzzy feeling.
I started doing more little things for him, to bless him in any small way I could. It was usually something simple like making him a cup of coffee or splurging on the brand of ice cream I knew he liked best. He started doing the same for me. Little love notes started appearing on my desk. A cup of tea would materialize next to my spot on the couch. It was the aggregate of all of these little acts of kindness that added up to a happy marriage. It took us entirely too long to discover this simple joy of serving and blessing each other, of being light with each other. It has made all the difference in a happy marriage and an unhappy one.
All you need is love
On the day that I decided I would rather be happy than be right, I am confident our marriage was saved. Maybe it isn’t difficult to take the extra step to put the laundry in the basket instead of beside it. And yes, it really only does take half a second to put the toilet seat down, but is that really the most important thing? Wouldn’t you rather be happy and content with the person you chose as he is, instead of being on a constant quest to change him? I had to set my perfectionism aside.
I realized, I had stood before God and our families and made a promise to love Allen just the way he was, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, toilet seat down or not. We had let such petty grievances drive us to arguing for the entire first year of marriage that I found myself thinking, “Why isn’t this easy like we thought it would be?” The truth is that is could have been easy, but WE were being difficult. These days, now that we have both realized it is better to be happy than to be right, we almost never argue. I can’t really remember the last time we argued. I finally realized that my husband, my true love, is so much more important than the laundry.