There are some things that are universal struggles in almost every marriage. Sometimes these tiny little insignificant things can turn into huge issues and fights, unfortunately.
So what is a wife to do when her husband constantly leaves the toilet seat up, and she ends up splashing in the nasty toilet water in the middle of the night? Or what is a wife to do when her husband doesn’t help with the laundry, or leaves dirty clothes all over the bedroom, or leaves wet towels on the bed or tracks dirt and mud through the house after she just vacuumed and mopped – again?
One thing that helps me A LOT is to talk with widows and read the stories of widows. There was an article about some of the September 11th widows and they all talked about how hard it was to hear wives complaining about these little inconveniences that come with living with a husband. They talked about how much they WISHED they could have those kinds of “problems” again and have their men back in their lives.
Here is how I handle some of those little annoying things now that used to get under my skin and fill me with resentment. Yes, you could ask very respectfully, and probably only once (or occasionally) – “Honey, would you please do X? I would appreciate it so much!” But if that doesn’t work…
- the toilet seat – Now, I just assume that the seat is probably up. So I feel in the dark and yep, it’s up. So I put it down and then I don’t fall in the toilet. I don’t expect the seat to be down. I live with a husband, and that is part of living with a man sometimes. And I think about how glad I am to have him in my life. I don’t nag him. I don’t make any deal out of it at all. I just changed my expectations. It’s not that big of a deal! You know what IS a big deal to God? My resentment, bitterness and un-forgiveness. Those are ugly sins in God’s book. Leaving the toilet seat up is not a sin. I happen to know my husband’s heart well enough to know that he doesn’t purposely leave the seat up to try to annoy me. And, I always leave the seat down, so he has to put it up. He doesn’t complain about that!
- clothes strewn around the bathroom/bedroom/wet towels on the floor or bed – Most of the time, my husband puts his dirty clothes in the hamper. If he doesn’t, I take 2 seconds and put them in the hamper. I don’t complain about it. I don’t even think hateful thoughts. It doesn’t upset me anymore at all. It doesn’t take much of my time. I think “I am so glad to be able to serve my husband and serve Jesus by taking care of him this way.” And I don’t get the least bit annoyed. I know I will probably be a widow in the next 10-30 years and I will have a very neat house and won’t have to clean up after anyone then. And I know I will MISS my husband so much. I want to savor every moment of being with him. Who knows how many days we have left to enjoy each other’s company? I don’t want to have any regrets.
- dishes put into the dishwasher “wrong” – I thank my husband for taking care of the dishes and cleaning up. I hug him and kiss him and smile at him and tell him what an awesome man I have that he would do all of that for me! Then when I take the dishes out of the dishwasher, if there are some that have crud on them, I soak them and rewash them. (Sometimes that happens when I load the dishwasher, too!) I could ask him to put them in a different way – respectfully. Or I could say, “Honey, the dishes don’t seem to be getting clean in the dishwasher,” and give him the chance to evaluate the situation. I don’t get angry. I’m thankful for Greg’s willingness to help me with chores now. Life has not always been like this! So any time he helps me in ANY way, I thank him and pile on the praise and encouragement. I do NOT criticize his help. I appreciate him.
- tracking dirt through the clean house – This actually happens a good bit when my husband is working on renovation projects at our house. Thankfully, we have hardwood floors almost everywhere, so that makes it a bit easier. I focus on the beautiful work my husband is doing to create my dream home for me. That is one of the biggest ways he likes to show his love for me. So, I don’t get on him about it at all. I just wait until the work is done for the day and cheerfully sweep the floor again and thank him for the incredible job he’s doing on the house. I don’t resent him. I don’t get angry. I hum or sing a praise song to God and I sweep the floor. Then I go cuddle with my man after he gets cleaned up and I hug and kiss him and listen to him talk about all of his amazing plans for his latest project and I smile and appreciate having such a talented husband who loves me SO much that he is willing to do all that hard work just to delight me.
MY HUSBAND DOES A LOT FOR ME
I used to silently, or not so silently, keep score and try to weigh what I was doing in the marriage each day compared to my husband. And I would resent him if I felt I had to do more chores around the house. It helps a lot that I am not working as much anymore, so I have more time to spend on chores and I’m not trying to work a full time job AND do the housekeeping and be a wife and mother. That was just WAY too much for me to handle! Now I only work about 11-20 hours/week.
Now when I do work, my husband helps me. I don’t usually ask him to do anything. He feels so respected now, he just does it all on his own. He’ll do laundry now, and even fold it and put it away!??!? He’ll do the dishes now, especially days that I am working. He’ll cook supper for me. A man who feels greatly respected is wired by God to want to serve those who honor him. I don’t respect and honor him so that he will do things for me. But, he often does wonderful things these days just because he loves me and likes to see me smile.
Even before my husband was feeling a lot more respected and started helping me so much more, I began to change and see all the ways he contributes to our marriage, household and family and how he NEVER complains. He takes care of all the outside chores and yard work. He does the renovation projects. He goes under the house and works on the ducts or the plumbing if needed. Plumbing can get particularly nasty. He doesn’t complain when he has to work on the sewage pipe and gets filthy. He is MY HERO for being willing to do all that stuff for me. He amazes me with his determination and perseverance and the way he seriously never complains no matter how hot it is in the attic when he’s putting insulation up there or how smelly and nasty it is under the house. I can definitely find plenty of things to appreciate and thank him for and things to respect him for. He contributes so much to making our house beautiful and safe and well-functioning. How can I really measure what I do against all those things he does that I would NEVER be willing or able to do?
So, I don’t keep score anymore. I just serve my husband and my Jesus with all my heart. I sing songs to God all throughout the day. I think about the things I respect and admire about my husband and all of his strengths. And I am the happiest, most joyful and peaceful wife in the world.
How has God inspired you to handle the little things that your husband does that used to annoy you? Maybe your story might inspire another wife!