How’s the quarantine going for you and your spouse? Have the warm fuzzies of being home together 24/7 worn off? Are you starting to get on each other’s last nerve? Here’s a question that will give you perspective when dealing with daily irritations.
When Bob started his own business and began working from home, I was deliriously happy. I had worked from home in a big empty house for quite a few years and, frankly, I was lonely. Once he came home, I could talk to him if the fancy struck. He was almost always available to have lunch with me. And, it was just nice to know he was across the hall working at his computer.
There was also a downside: The kitchen counter was decidedly messier than it had been. Five to ten water glasses adorned it at all times. How could anyone drink that much! I thought he should use one glass all day, but that wasn’t Bob’s system.
My mind went back to a time when we shared a home with Bob’s mom. We all wanted to make it a happy experience—but sometimes we had different systems. One question gave us a helpful perspective: When we had different opinions or different ways of doing something and there was an opportunity for irritations to rise, we asked ourselves a question.
“Will it matter in ten years?”
It was a great question. Most differences don’t amount to a hill of beans. Occasionally something would make a long-term difference and then, it needed to be addressed. Which brand of ketchup do you buy? You may know the correct answer and have a strong opinion about it, but will it matter in ten years? No. How often is it appropriate to sweep the kitchen floor? You may not enjoy the crunch of Cheerios under your bare feet, but will it matter in ten years? No. If the mother has some chores that the children must do every day, may the father excuse the children from doing them? Now this is one that could make a difference in ten years because if children learn they can play one parent against the other, there may be long term consequences. That issue is worth talking about and coming to an agreement.
What is the deeper issue?
There is another issue in play as well. Is the problem that I don’t like a lot of glasses on the counter or that you think the kitchen floor should be swept daily? Or, is it really something deeper? Perhaps the problem is that you don’t feel your opinion matters or that your spouse’s new rules are setting a bad precedent. Those problems go deeper and they need to be addressed at a deeper level. You can reference Chapters 8-10 of our book, The Marriage Dance, for insights on solving the recurring problems that lurk below the surface of your marriage.
I hope this question helps you during these difficult days of readjustment. Take another look at the problems that are irking you. Will they matter in ten years? Answer that question and then proceed.
The helps in this marriage blog as well as weekly marriage tips are available to you for FREE by signing up on our website here. (We will never share your information and you can unsubscribe at any time.)