Perspective Concerning Irritations
- Cindy Wright – March 5, 2013
The Marriage Message we sent out this week was on the subject of Love Accepts Many Imperfections… and yes, it does. There’s no way that you can be married any length of time and NOT see a myriad of “imperfections” in your spouse popping onto the scene here and there. And if you can’t in some way work out these differences so that you aren’t battling about them continually, it can chink away at your relationship —sometimes even destroy it.
“The plain truth is that it’s impossible for two human beings to live together for any length of time and not hurt each other. All too often life gets in the way of living. If the struggles of marriage were isolated to the minor irritations that come along with being imperfect, we would probably all have great marriages. But minor irritations can grow into major problems —and major infractions can break your heart.” (Bill and Pam Farrel, from the book, Love, Honor & Forgive: A Guide for Married Couples)
Of course, what we see as irritations or imperfections coming from our spouse isn’t viewed the same way, from his or her perspective. And then what he or she sees as irritations, which we do, we look at them as somehow more “normal” or excusable.
I read comments and emails continually where one spouse is complaining about the other and then he or she writes, “I know I’m not perfect, but…” It’s amazing how our “imperfections” are excusable but our spouse’s aren’t. So often it’s all in how you look at it… perspective.
Now, I’m not talking about abusive actions here, or adultery (which is also abusive to the loyal partner) —those need to be dealt with differently. I’m talking about little irritating things we do or our spouse does, which can really get to us, especially if they’re done over and over again, with no end in sight.
A little gnat can drive us crazy —especially one that keeps buzzing at us over and over again even after we’ve swatted at it repeatedly. Some of these habits can get to us the same way.
The perspective is though, that when you have a lion of a problem “licking” at your feet, the gnat of a problem doesn’t seem quite so important. I have several widow friends of mine who have given me a different perspective on the “gnat” problems I’ve had with my husband. They’d give anything to exchange problems with me. And when I think of them, I also think, “Thank you Lord, I needed that reminder!”
Truly, I’m not trying to minimize how maddening these irritations can be. I’ve had to work through these matters too. And I sure saw this week that I’m not the only one who struggles with a spouse’s irritating habits. We’ve received quite a number of emails from spouses who are dealing with these issues. A few days ago someone wrote us the following:
“Thank you. This is exactly what I/ we needed. I have had thoughts of divorce due to issues as such.”
Divorce! Oh… how we need perspective here! OUCH!!! We pray this couple can work through these problems and erase “divorce” from being an option they will entertain in any way.
“Bula! This indeed is an inspiring message and of course my major problem… thank you for solving it! God Bless you and the Ministry always…”
(We got several emails from around the world like that.)
Someone who shall remain nameless wrote:
“I really needed this one. We just hit our 3-year anniversary and it’s been a TOUGH three years. But my irritant… he closes nothing —doors (to the bathroom, outside, closet, whatever), drawers, cabinets, nothing…
“I’ve asked nicely. I’ve fussed. I’ve pleaded. I’ve put notes up on the doors saying, ‘Please close me. Thank you, signed the wife!’ I’ve reminded. I’ve asked if it was a conspiracy to make me crazy or if it was a control issue.
“He’s a muscle bound dude with apparently no door/cabinet/drawer closing muscle strength (or some type of unrecognized phobia). I have accepted that —and every day for the last month, I start my day by closing his drawers, then the bathroom door, then the closet door, and then the laundry room door. THAT is why I laughed out loud when I read this Message. So let me introduce myself, my name is … and I’m my husband’s closer.
To her email I wrote:
“I have to say that you made me laugh over your email to us. I’ve sure been there and have done that!
“Perhaps Paul Byerly can give you some additional hints on what you can do to help change this door issue. He just wrote a blog today on this same thing (except his involved drawers). You can read it in The-generous-husband.com article, If You Loved Me You Would Close That. You might want to try writing him on his blog, concerning this matter to see if he responds.
“And if he can’t help you perhaps reading another blog that I wrote a while back might minister to you in some way. You can find it on this web site in the blog, Praying Over Hangers.
“I finally had to stop getting so irritated and use it as an opportunity to grow beyond it, otherwise, it would STILL be a problem! What’s ‘funny’ is that when I finally gave up the fussing and reminding and nagging and getting angry and irritated (and the list goes on), and instead I prayed over the hangers that were left out, all of a sudden my husband hardly ever leaves his hangers out anymore. This dumbfounds me! Thank you Lord!
“I can’t say that this will happen to you, but whatever happens, sometimes we have to let go of the smaller irritants and save our energy for the ‘biggies’ that really do matter in the fuller picture of our life. I hope this helps in some way.”
And I do —for her and for you (as well as for me, because I learn from all that I read and eventually write).
I hope that we can put these things into perspective.
Jesus gave us a good reminder when He said (as quoted in Matthew 7:3-5):
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I have “stuff” that I do that irritates, my spouse has “stuff” but hopefully, we will find ways to work through it all, so that we can live together in peaceable ways, to the glory of God.
Don’t turn a blind eye to your own faults. And when it comes to our spouse’s shortcomings, freely give what God has freely given you: forgiveness and forbearance and grace.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” -Colossians 3:12-14