Two roads and two ways of toothpaste habits.
Toothpaste habits tell a lot about a marriage. There are two containers of toothpaste in our bathroom. That’s because we disagree. The problem is not the brand or the flavor. Nor does it have anything to do with whiteness, plaque, or gum sensitivity.
It has to do with habits, stewardship – and how we were raised.
I’ve been carefully sliding toothpaste down the chute of the tube I use in order to use the last drop. I’m not quite at the last drop, but I’m getting there. I have been getting there for several weeks now, which is proof positive there was a lot more in there than I thought was worth searching for. I even take the time to wash out the inside of the cap so the paste comes through the opening easily.
Dave, on the other hand, has a brand-new-ish tube he uses. I got it out of the closet because I was tired of hearing him fuss. (Okay, he doesn’t really fuss, but he makes comments that let me know I’m a lot like my mama was about not wasting things and he doesn’t have time for this.)
He thinks time is important, too. Because, seriously, sometimes it takes me longer to brush my teeth because I have to squeeze and slide that toothpaste all the way to the end of the tube. Every time I think it’s done, another glob comes out that’s more than enough. So I keep squeezing and smoothing. And I keep having more than enough.
I grew up hearing my mama say, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,” and “Waste not, want not.” That’s what I’m trying to do.
What is right and what is best?
Dave, on the other hand, hits the ground running first thing in the morning. By bedtime, he’s ready to hit the hay. Taking time to squish and squeeze is unnecessary, he thinks, when he has more important things to do. So he uses the new tube, and I use the old one. We’ve developed our own toothpaste habits, and neither one is necessarily good or bad. He pays the bills, so if he doesn’t mind throwing that last .099 into the trash, it’s fine with me. Yet, he doesn’t mind if I want to take the time to squish-it-all-out-to-the-very-last-drop.
I think about children in refugee camps or the kids we are sponsoring in other countries. They’d be delighted to have their own tube of paste to squeeze and squeeze day after day. I think about using up what we have so there’s no waste and imagine what it would be like if there was no money this week to buy more toothpaste. Were that the case, I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing now: squeezing to the last drop and then some. (And so would Dave.)
Thoughts on marriage
We will never always agree. We will never see things exactly the same way. The beauty of marriage is allowing the other to be different without arguing or competing against each other. Life is full of larger issues than who does or does not squeeze the last of the toothpaste. Focus on the things that matter for eternity, and let the toothpaste take care of itself.
The way you are raised is not the way he was raised. His mama said things your mama did not. We are influenced by our upbringing, and we should embrace who we are. The marriage we share is a blend of two people, two upbringings, and two different views because we are male and female.
How we handle the little things like toothpaste habits affects how we handle larger issues in marriage. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, figure out why the small stuff matters to you. Talk about it with your spouse. Recognize that when you are really ONE, it shows by how you work at the things that divide you. When a marriage is good, we are truly better together than apart, even when we work from different tubes of toothpaste.