When we do address the “small” things our spouses care about, we honor them.
In an article I read recently, the author said his wife left him over dirty dishes. I was intrigued and just had to read it. He talked about how it irritated his wife that he left dirty dishes next to the sink, and as much as she told him it bothered her, he never even made an attempt to change the behavior, nor did he ask why it bothered her so much. Still, he was shocked when his wife filed for divorce. He said hindsight is 20/20, though, because as he began to look back over their marriage, evaluating the part he played in the demise of his marriage, he realized that his wife regularly communicated things she wanted him to address. Things that hurt her. Things that bothered her. The problem was, he didn’t take time to talk with her about these things, acknowledge her feelings as important, or respect her polite requests to shift or change his behavior. Instead of getting curious and asking what was behind her requests, he had just figured she was nagging him and thought the issues were small and unimportant. Painfully and regretfully, he later realized it was the small things that went unaddressed that eventually caused their marriage to fall apart.
It may seem like a small thing, but if it matters to you or your spouse…it is important! Whether you agree about the issue or not is simply not the point. In a partnership, it is essential that we each make the other feel loved, heard, and cared for. When our behaviors indicate the opposite, it eats away at our love. It creates cracks in our foundation. And we all know that even a small crack can threaten the integrity of the entire structure–especially if left unaddressed for an extended period of time.
Take a moment and think about this: Has your spouse been communicating something on a regular basis that may seem small to you? Have you addressed it? Make it a priority to have a conversation about this issue! Here’s how you can do this effectively: Without minimizing how your spouse feels, enter their world and see the issue from their point of view. Ask clarifying questions. Mirror back what you hear them say, and ask them if you got it right. Once you understand the issue clearly, ask how you can help or what changes you can make to help resolve the situation. Doing these things will help your spouse feel acknowledged and cared for! Just be sure to also take action on the opportunities for change you discover through this conversation.
When we do address the “small” things our spouses care about, we honor them. Romans 12:10 (ESV) tells us to “love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Certainly, “out-doing” one another in honor is a sure-fire way to strengthen a marriage. So even if you don’t think leaving dirty dishes in the sink is a big deal, but it is a big deal to your spouse, change your behavior to show honor to them! These small behavior changes are simple, unselfish ways to communicate love. They show that you’re on the same team, that your spouse’s feelings are important to you, that their perspective is valid, and that you care. Let me challenge you today to intentionally address something that seems less meaningful to you but means something to your spouse. The love between you will grow in an incredible way as you honor your spouse’s needs and feelings!