Whether we state them as resolutions or not, most of us think through a few ways we’d like to improve each coming year. Among those goals…
Most marriages will probably encounter a few big trials. But, every marriage will likely face hundreds (if not thousands) of tiny trials. Married life is littered with misunderstandings, unmet expectations, moments of impatience, and differing opinions (just to name a few). While these daily issues won’t instantly shatter a marriage, how a couple deals with these challenges will significantly impact, maybe even define, the state of their marriage.
The problem is, most days there could be a reason to be at odds with our spouse. Just the sheer number of daily discrepancies could cause a marriage to be characterized by tension! In other words, a good marriage could quickly become a bad marriage if the little things get the best of us.
But that’s why there’s hope: if we don’t want marital friction from the little stuff, it’s possible we could altogether avoid it–We can’t avoid the trials, of course, but we can learn to not let the little things get the best of us.
Every marriage has unique issues. What are the little offenses that come up in your marriage? Why do you start blaming each other? What brings about moments of frustration? When do you start pointing the finger because your husband does things wrong, says things wrong, or disappoints you?
It’s helpful to clarify what sparks the “small” problems in your marriage, so you can decipher whether you typically bring more help or harm to the situation.
So picture what starts as a little problem, but quickly turns into a big problem. With those issues in mind, here are 5 thoughts to keep small problems from becoming marriage-ruining problems.
1) Assume the best.
It is far too easy to assume your spouse has done something wrong before you know he has. Until actions or reasons have been clearly understood, you might as well adopt the legal principle “innocent until proven guilty.”
Furthermore, since we are speaking of smaller daily offenses, be very slow to assume your husband’s actions stem from bad motives. If he loves you and wouldn’t purposely hurt you, chances are you can assume that’s true even when he makes a mistake. Simply remembering that fact can quell some anger. Try reminding yourself, “though I am bothered, my husband probably didn’t mean to hurt me.”
Assuming the best is basically applying principles from “the love chapter” of the Bible (1 Corinthians 13). It implies you are showing patience, you are not irritable or resentful, and it shows a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
2) Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Some issues are not much of an issue until we make them an issue. Meaning, we are probably quick to turn minor offenses into major offenses.
For instance, if your spouse makes a small mistake, forgets a little something, doesn’t help out quite as much as you’d like, gets home a bit late — is it let go-able? If it is, choosing to not make it a big deal, could make a big difference in your marriage. Whenever possible, we should let the little stuff go. Proverbially speaking (literally), we should be “slow to anger” (Proverbs 14:29, Proverbs 15:18, Proverbs 19;11), instead of easily offended. If you don't make a big deal over the little stuff, it could make a BIG difference in your marriage. Click To Tweet
3) Give the grace you want given to you.
Sometimes “little” stuff doesn’t feel very little. Instead, it can be hurtful, frustrating, or irritating. But if we were to take a long hard look at our past, most likely we could pinpoint times when we have offended people in similar ways. And what did we want in those situations? Grace! We wanted the person to forgive us, to let it go, and to trust we didn’t mean to hurt them. If that is the grace we’d want, how can we not give the same?
4) Own your role.
This isn’t going to be a fun thought to consider, but hear me out. I imagine hundreds of alleged problems (we wives complain about) would likely dissipate if we owned our role as our husband’s helpmate. Much of our angst as wives revolves around wishing our husbands would help us accomplish our wants, our dreams, our preferences—that they would just help us. And when our desires are not met, problem after problem arises. [Side note: Of course, this is not to say that a husband shouldn’t help his wife. A husband should be cherishing his wife and willingly sacrificing for her (Ephesians 5:25-33) and often that will translate as helping her.]
If we embrace our role as a helpmate, we might find that what we let get under our skin doesn’t belong there. Perhaps your husband’s supposed deficits are areas that God means for you to come alongside him. In fact, maybe your smaller marital problems are not “problems” at all, but are opportunities for you to be a good helper.
Picture a time when you were irritated because your husband was not doing something you wanted him to do — could it be that you subtly wish your husband would be your helpmate? By owning your role as a helpmate (and reminding yourself it’s your God-given role), the issue may dissolve.
5) Communicate well.
Some of us vent our frustrations eagerly. Some bottle it up. But if we want to prevent daily problems from ruining our marriage, we need to get good at communicating.
Not all problems need to be talked about (especially the “small issues” that we should “let go”). But when the issue keeps bothering you, communicate calmly and clearly. Most husbands will do what they can to make their wives happy– So say what bothers you rather than getting worked up. Come to him reasonably, with a willingness to see things from his angle. If you do that, the conversation may not be fun, but it will prevent small issues from becoming big issues.
Build Good Momentum
Unless your marriage is extremely unique, you are going to run into little issues. The key is keeping them little. I’m sure there is more that could be said, but if we choose to assume the best, graciously let things go, communicate well, and remember our role in marriage, I think we will be well on our way to keeping little issues little.
In all likelihood, momentum will develop that will actually strengthen a marriage, turning an otherwise normal marriage into a great marriage!
It is beyond worth it to not let the little issues get the best of us!