Whether the argument is about the toothpaste or other things in our marriages, the issue isn’t really that innocent tube of paste, is it?
Marriage is so much more than how to handle a simple little tube of toothpaste. ‘Problem is, often the toothpaste tube brings more than just disagreement on how it is to be squeezed; it shows us other things about marriage.
The morning I tried to make our bed and discovered that the top sheet was turned completely sideways I just shook my head. During the night, I vaguely realized that the sheet no longer covered the bottom of my feet. I have this thing about liking a sheet over me, no matter how hot it might be. The problem this time wasn’t that it was hot in the room. The problem was Dave’s feet. I give him leeway because he doesn’t like the sheet tucked in tightly on his feet. It seems that those fractured heels still cause problems, even when he’s asleep. In addition, that little twinge of arthritis in my fingers makes it harder to tuck in my end of the sheet, so when Dave is trying to find me in the middle of the night, his legs end up pulling the sheet out on my side of the bed. (Oh yes, it’s fun growing old together!)
That’s why I have to pull the top cover completely off and put that top sheet where it rightly belongs. Then I tuck the sheet and the top cover back under the mattress, leaving it looser on Dave’s side so his heels will thank me. I wonder how many times I’ve had to re-arrange the top sheet on our bed? Hundreds, I’m sure. But then, who’s counting?
Then there was the time I tripped (again) over the office chair that Dave left pushed back from his desk in our room. I shoved it back in place so I could get around the chair without climbing over the bed. Yes, I’ve mentioned it to Dave a time or two, and most times he remembers, but sometimes he forgets. Irritated? A little. But then, who’s counting?
Or those dresser drawers. I never seem to get them shut tightly. They’re always cracked open, leaving the room to look like someone was in a big hurry that morning. There are days I’ve gone back just to close those drawers because I noticed them only as I was exiting the room. Yes, Dave has mentioned that to me a few times. He likes our bed to be made (and even makes it before he goes to bed if I happened to not get it done that day). He likes our room to be tidy, and dresser drawers hanging open do not a tidy room make. How many days have I left the room looking unkempt just because I don’t bother to close the drawers completely? I’m sure Dave would say it’s been more than a lot. But then, who’s counting?
The thing with the toothpaste tube? We didn’t struggle with that so much because we used the push-up toothpaste for quite a few years. Now we’re back to the old tried-and-true toothpaste tube. Sometimes he squishes it in the middle. I come along behind him and squeeze it all together from the bottom. Just Like I think It Should Be. Then I smile because this what is the right way to squeeze the toothpaste tube? is so insignificant compared to other issues we face. I haven’t even talked to him about it because it’s not that big a deal. I could blame my OCD on needing to have it done my way or I can just come along and fix it to make me feel better and we can both be happy. How many times have I fixed the toothpaste tube? Probably thousands. But then, who’s counting?
Marriage involves give and take. If we can learn that, we’ll find that it’s not important – or even fun – to keep score by counting.
Since when is doing it my way more important than doing it his way? Demanding that things are done the way I like them, the way I was taught, the way I need it for my OCD is selfish. Oh yes, it is!
The issue isn’t the toothpaste; it’s us. Learning to “give and take” over a simple thing like that tube of toothpaste will pave the way for more give and take later. In time, we realize that it really doesn’t matter how the toothpaste tube is squeezed, or how many times I get it my way versus him getting it his way, because nobody’s counting.
Marriage is teamwork. When you’re on the same team, you want the same goal. You learn to give and take. You learn to work toward cohesiveness in your team.
When things come up that bug you, it’s more than okay to share that frustration. What isn’t okay is demanding, in those little things, that it must be done my way.
I’ve found that those little things can become like a stick of dynamite in a marriage. It’s better to diffuse it early than wait until it’s too late. I’ve also found that diffusing is easier when it’s done early instead of later. Plus, I’ve learned that I’ve wasted a lot of energy over seemingly significant things that really don’t hold a candle in the grand scheme of marriage.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given in to Dave, or how many times he has graciously given in to me. After all, who’s counting?