We all have them.
Those little things that drive us crazy. They flip our switch and spark a fire. The question is, if we want a happy marriage, how do we respond to those little idiosyncrasies that get under our skin?
“If you let them, idiosyncrasies can take the joy out of marriage. Those peculiarities you didn’t notice, chose to ignore, or thought were cute before your wedding day now seem irritating. How are you to live with them for a lifetime?” —We All Married Idiots, by Elaine W. Miller
Can we possibly have a happy marriage with so many annoyances?
I sure hope my husband thinks so, because I know it must be difficult for my everyday hero to understand why his wife always seems to need rescuing. Whether it’s a frantic phone call because my car won’t start or a frustration over what to cook for dinner, he at least knows that I depend on him like no other.
As cute as they might have seemed when we were young and still dating, the very things that caught our eye back then just might start to feel more like a grain of sand in our eye. Rubbing us the wrong way, it scratches and irritates us the harder we try to remove it.
“Funny, how our perspective on idiosyncrasies changes under different circumstances. Many will admit the very thing that bugs them is what first enticed them to their beloved, and what they will miss most when their loved one is gone.” —We All Married Idiots, by Elaine W. Miller
So how did this metamorphosis happen?
One of the things I love about my husband is his sense of humor. He knows how to make me laugh, and often uses humor to diffuse a tense situation. The problem with that is, it comes with risk. He knows that there’s a chance I will receive his humor with joy–or quite possibly with frustration.
“Hey, Doc, how about a two-for-the-price-of-one… why don’t you just go ahead and perform a lobotomy while you’re in there!”
Now depending on the amount of sedative I may or may not have had, you can imagine two possible outcomes… hilarious laughter or a self-righteous, “How dare you!”. While he did choose to make this comment, I had to choose how to respond–and on any given day, I could just as easily chosen one over the other.
Being a jokester has its place, to be sure. Knowing that he loves me, I often have to remind myself that he really is trying to be nice even when he makes awkward comments at awkward moments! Truth be told, I would never want to squelch his sense of humor. I love that he makes me laugh and that he can see the humor in life. While sometimes I might choose not to laugh so as not to encourage him, more often than not it is his persistence that turns my frown upside-down.
So, here’s a short list. Let’s not focus on how many things we could list, but on what it might look like if we see things differently. Here are five things that will help you if you are ready to change your perspective on some annoying habits:
Five Annoying Habits of a Happy Marriage
1. “He doesn’t bring me flowers!” So what? Go pick some. Make a beautiful table and serve him his favorite meal. Focusing on what we want never brings us joy. Serving others is the pathway to contentment, not selfishness. Treat him like a king and chances are, he will honor you as his queen. You are not just doing it for him–you are obeying the King of Kings!
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord–you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
2. “She won’t stop texting me (or talking)!” Really? Your precious wife can’t stand to be away from you and you’re complaining? Take it as a compliment, sir. You are her knight-in-shining armor, and when you were dating you would get goose bumps just hearing her voice. If she’s a stay-at-home mom it’s very likely that she is craving adult conversation. Is she more verbal than you? Want to spice up your marriage? Turn the table and outdo her in words of encouragement!
“…let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.” Song of Songs 2:14
3. “He leaves dirty laundry laying on the floor!” I’m talking two feet from the laundry basket. Seriously. That poor guy obviously worked so hard today that he just couldn’t find the energy throw it in the basket. Now the choice is yours: a.) You can leave them on the floor. Let them pile up until he can’t help but notice. b.) Point them out. Make sure he knows that you wash, dry and fold them and the least he can do is get them in the basket. Or, c.) you can lovingly pick them up and thank the Lord for your husband, and see this as an opportunity to serve him. I know. You might think it’s an unfair expectation, but I have personally heard from more than one widow or widower that all those little irritants that drove them crazy sometimes were the first things they missed when loved ones were gone. I might regret not doing things that I should have, but more likely I will regret even more the things that I said that I can’t take back…
“Do all things without grumbling and arguing.” Philippians 2:14
4. “She clams up when I ask her what’s wrong!” Fighting fair is crucial. (Choosing to pick up the laundry but then carrying a grudge about it is counterproductive!) When we play the blame game, no one wins. I am an avoider of conflict. I don’t like to fight and so in order to avoid it I can be guilty of not being completely honest with myself or my husband when I say, “nothing”. What that really means is, I am not ready to fight or to forgive–or both. Speaking the truth in love means that I am honest and kind and ready to forgive.
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13
5. “We never go out anymore!” So take a walk! Sometimes finances prevent us from doing the things we could afford to do when we were dating. Responsibilities change and having young children can hinder date nights. I get it. What you’re really looking for is alone time to reconnect, so find ways to make it happen. You can find things to do that are free, or you can stay home–either way, disconnecting from normal distractions like work, tv, or social media is absolutely necessary. “Taking me out” really just means stepping out of our routine for the purpose of bringing us back together. Extra-ordinary romance doesn’t necessarily happen in a restaurant or a movie theatre–connection is what brings us back to a healthy, happy marriage. What we are really saying is, “I just want some alone-time with you!”
“…when I found the one I love, I held on to him and would not let him go…” Song of Songs 3:4
Marriage is a gift from God. Our society is quickly de-valuing the sanctity of marriage. Don’t listen to the world’s definition of a happy marriage. Get into God’s Word–together. Read just how beautiful and romantic married love can be in the Song of Solomon. Remember your bride/your groom. Reflect on the little things that brought you together. Recommit yourself to loving your spouse with the kind of sacrificial, unconditional love that Christ demonstrated for us–and then watch as God does the work in you and in your marriage!
“Mighty waters cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” Song of Songs 8:7
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