One of the secrets of learning to become more positive in your marriage is to continually ask yourself a basic but core question: “Does this [issue, tension, etc.] really matter?”
Let’s apply this important question to the toothpaste tube that you presumably both share. Perhaps your spouse grew up squeezing the middle of the tube, and you roll it neatly from the bottom (like Jesus probably did). It bugs you that your spouse doesn’t do it “right,” right?
Now to our one vital question: Does it really matter? Yes, we know you wish your spouse would do it the way you do. We even understand that it matters to you. We’re also aware that it makes you mad and triggers negative thoughts. We get it. Now drop the emotion for a second and ask yourself, “Does this toothpaste-tube tension really matter?” Of course not! Do you have a preference? Absolutely! And your preference is right to you, but it doesn’t really matter in the broader scope of your marriage. Since you may be getting a little emotional about your toothpaste quandary, let’s pause for a second. Take a deep breath. One more. Exhale. Feel better? Now let’s continue.
We know that illustration may have been tough on you. Actually, we hope you’re laughing with us (at least a little) and have grasped the principle behind this vital question. If so, let’s slice this question another way: “How important is this issue to your marriage?” Does (the issue) make the top-ten list of things you want to continue to battle over?
Here’s the truth you must embrace during your first few years of marriage: You simply can’t have strong opinions and care deeply about everything. That will destroy your marriage. There are only so many things that a happy, healthy, and vibrant person can ultimately care about 1,440 minutes every day. There’s just not enough time to care deeply about every single frustration. When little things are making you angry, you won’t have any room to be positive. You can’t make everything a big deal in your marriage. This truth requires you to relax on a few things and figure out how to let them go so they don’t continue to fuel negativity. If you embrace this basic question and ask it often, it can guide you toward some very important course corrections.
Let’s face it, you didn’t marry a perfect person (and we hate to pop your bubble, but your spouse didn’t marry one either!). Some things will bug you, and you’ll have to ask yourself, “Does this really matter?” We strongly believe that some things should really matter—addictions, abuse, neglect, and unkindness, for example—but so much happens in marriage that some things just shouldn’t matter, or you’ll be angry all the time, and negativity will flow from your heart into your thoughts, your tone, and ultimately your actions. Yuck! No one wants that, and no one wants to live with someone who is negative and angry all the time. If you keep asking, “Does this really matter?” you’ll find yourself engaging in fewer battles with your spouse and enjoying more peace in your marriage.