Putting Down Your Pet: Dealing with marital pet peeves

Dave and Anne diagonal

You know you have a few pet peeves.  You probably have a few more than you’d like to admit.  But it’s the small stuff that can get in the way.  The Wall Street Journal put out a great article on it and, I think, hits the nail on the head.  “…it’s the seemingly small things that pull them (marriages) apart.”

Pet Peeves

For some women, well most women, the violation of leaving the toilet seat up and not realizing it until they sit down on the cold porcelain in the middle of the night is the breaking point. For some men, it’s the gobs of unmentionables drying on the shower-curtain rod. Others go ballistic when there’s a blob of toothpaste left in the sink to form a small cement like rock.

Now, I think Anne’s pet peeves are totally unreasonable.  So I pull out drawers/cupboards and refuse to push them in.  It ends up making our kitchen look like a scene from the “Sixth Sense”.  As I’m typing this out, she just walked in the room and asked her if she has anymore than that one…

…aaaaand I can’t type fast enough to keep up with her.

(The short version) Apparently, I pull out clothes and pile them on the end of the bed.  After a workout, instead of using the clothes I already had on, I get something else.  Then I come home, and get something else to change into and pile the clothes I was wearing in the same spot.  Maybe I should stop that?

Do I have them?  Absolutely.  Let’s start with the toothpaste. I don’t understand how hard it is to squeeze from the bottom up.  I’ve given the family a tutorial on the proper way to use the tube to maximize the toothpaste inside.  Then there’s the microwave.  I don’t think it’s asking too much for my family to cover things like chilli that splash in the microwave and make it look like we’ve cooked a gremlin and it exploded (my 80’s movie reference).  Perhaps my biggest one is Anne’s random reshuffling of the cupboards and, specifically, my clothe drawers.  I have a pattern by which I get ready every day.  Without warning, the drawers are reshuffled, changed, and madness ensues.  It’s like having a sneeze interrupted; you just don’t feel right.  Is it too much to ask that my drawers not be touched.

All of the aforementioned irritations are just that; they are irritations. They are not the hills I choose to die on; it’s part of being married. However, we all have those things that irritate us beyond words.  (Seriously, is it too much to leave my socks in my normal drawer?) It is my pet peeve that produces the no-holds-barred showdown.

In reality, I could easily get used to, after 15 years, her switching things around every 5-6 months.  But to me it’s a matter of principle. I feel like she disregards my preferences as well the pattern I follow every day. I’m focused in the morning.  I’ve got counseling appointment, sermons, meetings, and blogs on my mine.  Typing this out, I feel embarrassed on how big of a deal I make this.

For whatever reason or pet peeve, there comes a point in so many marriages when couples get WEARY and LET GO. “To have and to hold, to love and to cherish from this day forward” turns into “I have done my part”.

If left unchecked, this mindset can eventually become “I am done”.

Just like water dripping in a cave and eroding pathways into stone, our pet peeves that are left unconstrained, becomes the “thorn in the flesh” in our marriage.  Instead of keeping us humbled and reminded of our dependence upon God and our spouse, it becomes a splinter that becomes infected.  Infections pull away health.  They make us weary.

I’ve been going through Galatians in my personal devotions.  It says in Galatians 6:9And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

I have seen the truth of this verse played out over the course of my marriage.  We all have pet peeves.  We have things we hold onto that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t really matter.

A few pet peeve questions:

Do I purposely encroach on my spouse’s pet peeves because I think it’s playful? If so, you spouse DOESN’T…so STOP!!!
Do you violate your spouse’s pet peeves out of spite? Are you looking for revenge or payback?  You can’t play the tit-for-tat game.  It’s destructive and childish.
–  Have you communicated to your spouse that something is a pet peeve? Don’t assume that time together has communicated to your spouse everything they need to know about the things that irritate you.  You know what assumption does right?
– Do you love your pets (pet peeves) more than you love your spouse? It sounds like a stupid question but it’s not. If you are ready to give an ultimatum to you spouse over the toothpaste tube, chances are, the tube isn’t the main issue.

TRUTH: Pet peeves, left unchecked, lead to weariness.

The key to not becoming weary in the first place is found in Isaiah:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? 
The Lord is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He does not faint or grow weary; 
 his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, 
and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:28-31

This verse tells us that every one of us is prone to exhaustion. The best thing to guard our marriages from growing weary is to be hoping in and waiting for the Lord and the strength that only His Spirit brings to our lives.  It’s laying down our preferences and pet peeves and allowing him to work in and through us as we travel the marriage journey with our spouse.  I’ll leave you with a last TRUTH:

Our marriages have a better chance of surviving if we aren’t weary. 

As for my cloth drawers? I put my underwear and socks back in the drawer they belong in.  It makes me feel like I won that battle.  The truth is: I think she let me win.

Thanks for letting me ramble…


One response to “Putting Down Your Pet: Dealing with marital pet peeves”

  1. Anne lets you win a lot of the times
    so that you both can be winners 🙂

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