Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, December 6, 2010

That Three Letter S Word

OK, so it's time that I talk some more about that three-letter word that starts with S. It's so difficult to mention even though we know we think about it all the time.  Of course I'm talking about SOX.  No not the White Sox or Red Sox, but the "socks" that you men still throw on the floor.

It's one of those little things that yes you do to passively-aggressively (I am a counselor you know) annoy your wife. She hasn't mentioned it since the second week of your marriage but every time she picks them up she throws them into the clothes hamper with a "Hmmph" that expresses her continuing deep hatred of your laziness and obsession with ESPN.

She's even considered just hiding them all until one day you look in your drawer before work and realize there are no socks to wear on a day when the temperature is barely above freezing.

Actually, there are hundreds of little sock-like annoyances that can crop up in a marriage which can slowly destroy our relationship. Or we can figure out how to live with them or at least work through them. I have a favorite pre-marital counseling theorem that I often use with couples:  If you throw your socks on the floor before you get married, you'll throw them on the floor after.

Your wedding day changes nothing when it comes to your habits.  Just because you went to this beautiful worship center or outdoor venue for your wedding, enjoyed the company of hundreds of family and friends and said your vows before "God and these witnesses," you will still be you the next day.  You won't likely say, "Oh, I'm married now so I won't be doing such and such (well, except dating, I hope) again."

So how do you handle those little annoyances like socks on the floor or how they brush their teeth or the way they clean or don't clean or whatever?  First, you remind yourself that you love this person including the good and the bad.  Part of loving someone is accepting who they are faults and all.

Second, you determine just how important their changing is to you, your family and your overall safety.  For example, if your spouse enjoys driving eighty miles per hour around town with you and the kids in the car, something needs to change. However, if they leave a drawer open now and then is that worth a fight or major discussion?

Third, when something does need to be discussed speak the truth in love.  Don't turn a habit into a character-fault issue.  "You are such a lazy bum.  Why can't you pick up your stupid socks?  Your parents obviously thought you were the center of attention and I'm telling you that's not going to be the case in this house?"  Tell them how it makes you feel and what you need that would help you feel differently.  In fact check out my posts on communication - there are some helpful tips there.

Finally, learn to compromise.  What could each of you do to make the issue that much less problematic, annoying or threatening.  Part of intimacy is looking at the things in each of us that aren't so pretty so get them out on the table and work out a solution that you both can accept if you can't stand things the way they are.

But remember, when it's all said and done, most of our annoyances are about us more than the other person and many of our annoyances are far worse than theirs. You only have so many days together.  Decide today which parts, the good or the bad, you're going to focus on during the years you have left!  And for Heaven's sake, go pick your socks up.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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