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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

     Genesis 2:18 reads, "Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him." (NLT) I love what Adam says next in verse 23, "At last!" the man exclaimed. "This one is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh!"

My Friend Debbie     So, which one are you, nag or helper, helpmate? Are you best friends with your spouse or are you always at odds about even the littlest things? To be perfectly honest, I was quite a nag at the beginning of my marriage and it took just one phrase from a friend to change my whole mindset. If you find that you are more on the nag side as you read this article, take heart, there is hope. If God can change my stubborn heart, He can change yours.

     The first couple of years of my marriage were very rocky. In fact, although my husband and I have been married for 14 years now and happily at that, it wasn't always so. We almost divorced in our first year because we just couldn't communicate well. My husband is very laid back; and me, well I'm a little high strung, type A all the way. At the beginning of our marriage our biblical roles as husband and wife were very mixed up. I was more the head of the household. He on the other hand, was quite content in letting me make all the decisions. He just sort of went along with whatever I suggested. Except for putting his clothes in the laundry! I know, such a little thing, but it used to drive me crazy. I could get him to do just about anything for me but I couldn't get him to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket which was just inches from where he would let his clothes fall everyday.

     It may seem like such a stupid little thing to get upset over, but it was a sore spot for me. Every time I saw his clothes on the floor I felt disrespected as his wife. Not only did I do his laundry but apparently I was his "slave" and had to pick them up from where they laid in order to do so. It made me fuming mad and no matter how many times I asked him to, "please put your clothes in the hamper," he just didn't get it. I would nag and nag until it seemed like that's all I did. The nagging started to trickle over to other stupid things until I almost couldn't stand the sight of him or his clothes and I'm sure he didn't enjoy coming home to the latest lecture from me.

     All of this was fixed in just one day. Do you have a friend that gets on your nerves because they always have the answers and know just the right thing to do? I had such a friend early on in my marriage and boy did she irritate me. I realize now that she got on my nerves because she was always right and that affected my strong-willed personality. This woman had been married a few more years than I and she was a more mature Christian than I. She could always cut me to the quick with a word of wisdom.

     So there I was one day just ripping on my husband about how he doesn't do this and doesn't do that. My friend started to quietly chuckle to herself, which infuriated me even more. By the time I quit complaing, she said, "Wow Christina, if the biggest problems in your marriage are dirty clothes on the floor, then you've got it made." I couldn't believe she had just said that. I wanted her to side with me. I wanted her to sympathize, not teach me a lesson. I was so mad I could spit nails. Then she said, in a matter of fact way, "Look, you need to pick your battles. Decide right now, what are the really important things that you want to argue about with your husband because if you complain and nag about every little thing, especially dirty socks on the floor, then you're headed for a sad, lonely marriage." That was it; that's all it took. Just a few words of annoying wisdom and my life became so much easier and my marriage so much happier.

     My friend's words helped me to realize that there were many people dealing with real issues, infidelities and betrayals, and here I was putting the happiness of my marriage in jeopardy over dirty clothes. I resolved that day not to sweat the small stuff. I even devised a way to get my husband to put his clothes in the hamper without ever having to nag him again. That night when Mike came home I said, "Okay honey, from now on I am not going to nag you about the clothes on the floor. However, if the clothes don't get in the hamper then I don't wash them." It was that simple. It took him a little while but after needing clean underwear or a shirt for work, which hadn't made it into the hamper and didn't get washed, he got it and that little annoyance faded away.

     I tell this story to hopefully help anyone out there who is like me. First off, there was imbalance in my marriage. As a part of the punishment for original sin God said in the latter part of Genesis 3:16: "And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you." (NLT)Part of my nagging problem was due to the reality that my husband allowed me way too much control in our relationship and I enjoyed it a little too much. But on those occasions when I couldn't control him, it just sent me into a frenzy. (Now don't get hung up on this issue of who is over or under whom. In our society today and with the lies we have been taught, it is very hard for us women to allow anyone to rule over us. Know the truth, know God's Word, and when you make the choice to live His way you will experience a freedom in being under the covering of your husband that is far surpassing any joy than ruling over him can bring. Remember, our husbands are over us, but God is over them and He will take care of you.) It has been many years and my husband has learned to take charge most of the time. I have let go, for the most part, of needing to always be in control. In our relationship, we are more partners, with equal strength and humility. I learned that I am only in control of me and what I do. It's not easy but when I feel the old me rising up inside I just remember the Word of the Lord and I am set at ease with my role and my place in His perfect plan for us and my marriage.

     Are you helpful as God intended or is your mouth out of control and hurting your marriage? Here are some scriptures to ponder. Proverbs was written by Solomon, one of the wisest men who has ever lived. Proverbs 21:19 says, "It's better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife." (NLT) Wow, not only does God say it would be better to live alone, but then He adds "in the desert," one of the harshest environments known to man. Twice, in Proverbs, verses 21:9 and 25:24 Solomon writes, "It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic than to live with a quarrelsome woman in a lovely home." (NLT) Then again, twice Solomon writes in Proverbs 27: 15-16 and 19:13, "A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands." (NLT) Nagging can only lead to resentment and stress that is unnecessary and damaging to your marriage. It's pretty simple actually. As my good friend once said to me, don't sweat the small stuff, pick your battles. It's up to you; it's your choice.

     I'd like to leave you with a few of my favorite verses that remind me who I am called to be as a wife. These verses come from the last book in Proverbs; verse 31:10-12 read, "Who can find a virtuous wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." (NLT) And verse 31:26 & 28, which read, "When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. ...Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: "There are many virtuous women in the world, but you surpass them all!" (NLT)


Copyright © 2008-2015 Christina Messer

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