Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sweatin It Small Stuff Style

In case you just stepped into this series, I’m looking at Madonna Behen’s “Seven Secrets of Lasting Love,” spending each day a week pondering one of the secrets. The introduction to this series is here.    Secret #1 is to Have Realistic Expectations.  Secret #2 is to sweat the small stuff. That’s this post's hot topic.

It’s not the healthiest relationship move to ask, “Honey, what do I do that drives you crazy?” Face it, ladies, you are going to get mad, no matter his response.

“No way. I’m not stupid” will be interpreted by us as “I’m not going to work on our relationship by talking through this.”

“Well, let me pull out the long list I keep in my wallet” won’t go over well either.

So let’s think about our wording. I tried this: “Can you think of one little thing I could start doing that I don’t do now that would make you happy?” The answer to this phrasing was much easier to endure. He said he liked it when things were in their place. (Wasn’t that diplomatic instead of saying, “I’d like you to stop being such a slob.”) He even gave examples: my shoes, my bags, my socks. (I tend to leave myself all around.)

And I starting thinking of the little things that would make me happier. A week ago I said one item like this: “I’m thinking one of my new pet peeves is when the recycling items pile up on the counter instead of being put away.” I had to remind him kindly of that today with a “do you remember how this is my new pet peeve?” as I pointed to the empty counter (empty because of my efforts).

I think that two elements are important when telling your spouse about the small stuff that makes you “nutsy coo-coo” as my mom says.

1)   How you say it.
a.     Don’t point fingers, speak calmly, and consider how you’d like to hear the same information.
2)   When you say it.
a.     Don’t pile on, and remember that timing is everything.

A healthy marriage is an honest marriage—but Emily Dickinson had it right:

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth's superb surprise; 

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind. 

Criticism, critiques, and even requests can be hard to hear, but bottling up your emotions will cause long-term damage. When something is worth the request, say it carefully: "dazzle" him "gradually" (Dickinson l. 7). 

Love isn't actually blind: it's kind. 

Don't tell the Summer of Healthy Living I had a Diet Dr. Pepper today. (And, in my husband's defense, all of these items are ones I emptied.)

  the entire series (with written posts linked)
Secret #2 Sweat the Small Stuff 
Secret #7 Spend Time Apart

Behen, Madonna. “The Seven Secrets of Lasting Love.” USA Weekend 27-29 April 2012. Print. 
Dickinson, Emily. "Tell All the Truth." Poemhunter.com. n.p. 3 January 2003. Web. 9 July 2012.

this post is linked up with

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

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