Few things kill romance and passion like bickering and arguing. Yes, making up can be nice, but too much arguing just wears you out and drains you of the energy for anything else. What’s funny to me is that most of the time that Ed and I argue, it’s about something silly or inconsequential in the long run. As parents, we’ve always been good about picking our battles with the kids. Curfew time is important, jean styles are not. Drugs and drinking are important, music is not. Why should it be any different as a couple? If we choose our battles carefully, we’ll be choosing to battle less. So how do you do that?
I found some answers in an ironic place, the website of The Army Wife Network.
There I found an article on this very topic by Laurie Puhn. If you don’t know her, Laurie Puhn is a lawyer, couples mediator, relationship expert, and frequently appears on Good Morning America, Fox News and CNN. She has some advice on how to pick your battles wisely in a marriage.
Before you open your mouth to give some unwanted advice or criticism, ask yourself this single best question: Does this affect me? If your answer is no, then say nothing and don’t pick the battle.”
She goes on to tell the story of a husband and wife who got into a huge fight because the husband had gone out without his umbrella (again) and gotten soaked. He told her he didn’t mind, rather than telling her she was right that he should have taken the umbrella. Things escalated into a fight, but the wife realized later that the fight was pointless. She wasn’t wet and he didn’t seem to mind being wet so what was the point of the fight?
So if it doesn’t affect you (or harm someone else) just leave it alone.
I’m sure there are many things that that your spouse does that may bother or annoy you, but how many of them truly affect you and take up your time or money? Remember that your spouse is not perfect, but you are not there to fix him or her. Rather than jumping in with unnecessary criticism to spark a fight, be smart, take a breath, and hold your tongue. This too shall pass.”
I gave that one a few moments of reflection. Yes, Ed still forgets to put the toilet seat down, but I haven’t drowned yet. Ed hates it when I can’t find my keys (almost daily) but it’s never made *him* late for work.
I think Laurie Puhn has a point.
Ed leaves me love notes all over the house, all the time. Do I really want to fight with him (again) about forgetting to pick up his own dry cleaning? I don’t need his suits, but I do need his love notes.
What are some things that you and your spouse argue about that probably really don’t matter? I challenge you (and myself, and Ed) to ask “Does this affect me?” before you start in about it next time.