Make-Up-Monday: Managing our Mess

by Merritt on August 27, 2012

I mentioned on Facebook last week that conflict stinks! And I promised an update today—on Make-Up-Monday—so here you go, another glimpse into our not-so-perfect-but-worth-it marriage…

2012 08 04 17.431 300x300 Make Up Monday: Managing our MessOne morning last week I groggily came downstairs to find the Husband unloading a bunch of stuff from a drawer in our kitchen. It upset me immediately.

I felt like he’d been on a kick lately…relocating my shoes {twice} from near the front door to our bedroom closet, removing a rug by the back door…not big deal things, but things we’d talked about before and never really came to an agreement. Now he was taking action. And his next conquest was a disorganized kitchen drawer.

Just between you and me, I’ll admit I’m never going to win any awards for my organization skills. My system is more like “organized chaos.” An outsider wouldn’t know what to do with my piles. But I can almost always tell you where to look for whatever I might need. It’s crazy-making for people like the Husband {and several dear friends who have tried to help me “get organized” in the past}. I’m sentimental and hate to waste things while he easily makes quick decisions about what to throw away {almost everything} and what to keep {almost nothing—or at least that’s how it feels to someone like me}.

Moving us into the same home—now THAT’S recipe for disaster.

Even if we weren’t so different in our things-keeping/things-throwing style, the truth is we have a lot of stuff. We moved from a three-bedroom house, plus an office, to a two-bedroom condo. Despite having purged a lot prior to our move, we STILL have too much stuff for this place. I know it. And I know a lot of it is because of me.

On this particular morning I snapped out of my early-morning daze and pounced on him, which caused immediate shut-down.

My feelings at the time—seeing random, seldom-used kitchen items strewn across the dining room table at 6:30 a.m.—really had more to do with our lack of communication on this topic. No, we certainly don’t have to talk about every little thing he wants to move or change, but I was beginning to feel hurt by what seemed to be his irritation with my house-keeping skills.

Generally when we have conflict, the Husband is the first one to come around. He hates that feeling of separation that invades the normal closeness of our marriage. But not this time. He was frustrated. Confused. Not sure what to do next. And then he said it.

“I feel like I’m walking on eggshells all the time in this area. When we have these arguments it seems like the only resolution is to do things your way.”

Ouch.

Yes. He’s right. Kind of.

But mostly because I don’t have another solution. So sometimes the answer to the problem of not knowing what to do with all my/our stuff is to just ignore it. And that’s fine. With me.

Problem is—someone else lives here too. And it DOES bother him.

In the end, we were able to resolve pretty quickly. In about 20 minutes’ time from the moment I stepped downstairs we’d resolved, were hugging and only a few tears had been shed. It wasn’t that we’d fixed the issue of what to do with our material possessions. But we quickly came to the conclusion that we’ve been avoiding this issue {each with our own reasons for doing so}, and it was time to begin working together on this problem.

A good 24 hours later on Date Night, he was sweet to encourage me for being the one to take the first step toward him in our conflict. We both know he does it more than I do. But something was different this time. I felt it.

In past conflicts I’ve had this intense feeling of opposing him. Not this time. I knew we were in this together. I knew that I needed his help. That we are a team. And that we both have room to grow—in understanding one another, communicating, working together, and finding a solution we can both live with.

And in that moment it became clear to me that this issue is a testimony to God’s wisdom in putting us together. And together we’ll figure it out…even if it takes the rest of our lives.

What about you? How can you work to be on the same team with your spouse during conflict? 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather B June 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Conflict..yeah, even after 18 years, we still are a work in progress. I did just finish reading a great new book I think is great for all wives (even husbands) at any stage of marriage. It’s called “The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship,” by Erin, Greg and Gary Smalley. It helped me understand that I need to work on me, and that is my greatest influence on my marriage relationship. Of course, the 10 “keys” include communication, resolving conflict, defusing anger, forgiving, etc. Biblical, inspirational, affirming. One of my favorite quotes is, “When we turn to God for help, he fills us with his love and enables us to see ourselves and our husbands through his eyes. Keep in mind that a wholehearted wife focuses first on her own heart!” I highly recommend it!

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Merritt July 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm

HI Heather – Thanks so much for the book suggestion. I will add it to my list! I love what you said about focusing on ourselves first! Conflict almost always involves a harsher attitude about the other person’s behavior rather than our own.

A friend posted this quote on FB recently and it seems so fitting to this conversation: “If each spouse says to the other, ‘I will treat my selfishness as the main problem in the marriage,’ you have the prospect for great things.” – Tim Keller

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