My husband, Dave, was convinced that the “right” way to put jam on toast was with a knife. I knew it was a spoon. For years this was our discussion every time we used the toaster.
Finally Dave said, “I understand it now—you grew up with your mom’s homemade jam, and it’s less thick than store-bought jam. Of course you would use a spoon!” And from then on, we accepted each other’s jam spreading.
There may not always be an answer for why your spouse spreads jam the “wrong” way, but here are some ideas for how to keep differences and minor annoyances from pushing you apart.
Minor annoyances in behavior
I never fully latched the linen closet in our bathroom because I knew I’d be back there soon. The unlatched door bugged Dave. When he mentioned it, we debated the importance of latching it. Though not important to me, I now latch it because it matters to him. So sometimes I need to adjust.
Different skill sets
I’m our family-trip planner. Dave is our navigator. Once we understood our roles, we were able to function within them and defer to the other’s expertise without opinions getting in the way. We find ways to complement and not compete with each other.
I hate ironing. I would almost rather get rid of a shirt than iron it. Dave doesn’t mind ironing. I, on the other hand, don’t mind laundry. I can get out any stain, and I know exactly which materials will wash well with others. Job division doesn’t have to be equal, just balanced, and not all jobs need to be shared.
Different ways of doing things
I had my flip phone far longer than people around me. When I upgraded, a family member suggested I put our daily calendar on it. Perhaps my way of doing things was a minor annoyance for this relative.
Dave defended my paper system: “She runs our family well the way she does it. Why mess with that?” His defense of how I did things made me feel respected as a person. In marriage, it’s important to allow for differences. Dave and I are still discovering ways that we do life together as a couple with five kids. We’ve found that it’s the little things that annoy us. But the little things also make our marriage wonderful.