Sometimes it really is the little things that matter most.
My husband and I have stood together through death, car accidents and floods. But when it comes to his socks on the floor, I lose it. Just a glimpse of a white athletic sock peeking out from under the couch is enough to make me wish my knives were sharper and my aim was better.
In my husband's defense, he is a hard-working man. He builds auto-pilots for airplanes, he's redone the plumbing on our 80-year-old house, he does the laundry, balances the budget, helps me cook and does the dishes. He also mows, fixes my computer when it breaks and holds his own in Scrabble. The man is no slacker. But he comes home, whips off his socks and tosses them on the floor.
In our relationship, I am the cleaner. I love to wash the floors and in times of stress, I relax by pouring a glass of wine and scrubbing the living heck out of the bathtub. So, when I see the socks on the floor, I don't see socks on the floor. I see a sign, a sign that says, "I don't value your efforts to keep the house clean. You are my slave! Muahahaha!" And it blinks over my husbands head in bright orange neon lights and that's when I start wondering where exactly I stashed my B.B. gun. Chores for Two: Why Men Don't Pitch In
I've tried every way I know to express to The Dave how I feel about the issue. I've tried throwing the socks away, hiding them, hiding the cookies, leaving all the lights in the house on (his pet peeve), leaving the socks there to form a large stinking pile of socks, air conditioning the outside, yelling, nagging, throwing socks at his face, crying and oh yeah, I tried calmly explaining to him how much the socks on the floor really mean to me. Nothing has worked. For the past five years, The Dave has left his socks on the floor because he forgets about them and I've consistently picked up socks off the floor, while harboring bitterness and fantasies of napalm, until I explode. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Love & Anger: How to Fight Right
It's a ridiculous cycle, but it affects every marriage. Toilet paper. Capping the toothpaste. Eating cheese over the sink. A friend once told me that if she was found dead it was because of the mucus her partner snorted into the sink every morning finally killed her. It's the little things that build and build until like a martial Mount St. Helens you explode, leaving villagers, neighbors and anyone in your volcanic path to run for their little lives. Everyone says don't sweat the small stuff, but its always the small stuff that that makes you lose your cool. Once during yet another round of Socks v. Lyz, I yelled, "If I can't trust you to pick up your socks, how can I trust you at all?" Not my finest hour.
The truth is any relationship is a daily act of forgiveness. That's what the "as long as you both shall live" part of the marriage vows mean. That you commit to fighting over socks and how to properly hang the toilet paper (over is best!) for the rest of your lives and you will learn to like it or learn to change. And we have changed. He's getting better at remembering to clean them up and I am learning to see them as just socks, not a neon status update of the health of our relationship. Also, I remembered where I stored my BB gun.
What "little things" do you fight over?