Don’t let little issues grow into resentment and isolation.
by Susan Yates
Do you need grace in your marriage? I do.
Lately I’ve realized how easy it is for me to get irritated or frustrated over the smallest things that my husband, John, does or forgets to do. For example, he’s forever losing his smart phone or the car keys. My natural tendency is to roll my eyes and groan and fuss at him yet again.
Or he forgets something I told him and I get irritated. Why can’t he remember? It makes me feel like what I say isn’t important to him. Or we fail to communicate clearly about something, which causes an argument, which leads to blaming one another. And the issue probably wasn’t that significant anyway!
There are seasons in which we are most vulnerable to this pickiness in marriage. Most often it’s when we are tired. When our schedules have been too full and we haven’t had any time to simply just be together and remember why we are best friends.
Sleep deprivation exacerbates our testiness. Stress and responsibility add to our tendency to get picky. Either one of us can feel like we are doing all the work and the other one isn’t helping like they should. Or we aren’t being appreciated as we wish we were.
Life just seems overwhelming at times. And we lose patience with one another.
As I write these words we are getting ready to host our annual “Cousin Camp.” Our grandkids, ages 4 and up, come in for four days and then all the rest of the family joins us for several more. We have five children and 21 grandkids, so you can imagine all the prep. And we dare not go into this tired.
But we are. Due to a month of overwhelming responsibilities, John is really tired. I’m tired, too, and in my exhaustion I can get snippy—especially with him. So I have a choice to make. Will I grant him extra grace, or will I react with resentment when he forgets something, or loses something, or asks me again about something that I’ve already explained?
The reality is that I disappoint him, too. We are both selfish people. But he is a very good man, and I am very blessed. And these little issues are just that—little. Yet over time the little issues, unless you take care of them properly, will grow into big issues of resentment and estrangement.
I want to be a woman who grants extra grace in times of need. Here are a few tips that help me do that:
First, recognize if your default is usually frustration, and then change the default to laughter. Simply laughing at a crummy situation has a way of relieving tension and restoring perspective.
Second, remember that, in the scheme of things, this issue is not a big deal. And it might help to say, “If this is the only thing you do wrong today you are in good shape!” Recently I was driving and got a speeding ticket. I was mad with myself. My sweet man said, “Don’t worry about it; it’s just a ticket.”
Third, realize when extra grace might be needed and lower your expectations. You may be going on vacation with little kids, for example. Lower your expectations. Plan to laugh at everything that goes wrong—yes, even when he gets lost or led astray by a GPS and refuses to ask for directions. It will make a great story one day.
Finally, pray for your own heart. I’m praying today, God make me more of a “grace granter” with my husband. Help me to be less demanding. Remind me of the amazing man he is when I get frustrated with the little things. And overwhelm me with laughter in the coming days.