One of the secrets of learning to become more positive in your marriage is to ask yourself a basic but core question: “Does this [issue/tension] really matter?” Let’s apply this important question to the toothpaste tube that you both share. Your spouse grew up squeezing it from the middle of 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 he/she would do it like you want it. We even understand that it matters to you. We are 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! It doesn’t really matter. Do you have a preference? Absolutely! And your preference is right to you, but it doesn’t really matter in the larger view 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? 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 you understand the principle behind this vital question. If so, let’s slice this same question another way: “How important is this issue to our marriage?” Does it [the issue] make the Top Ten list of things you want to continue to battle over? Here’s the truth that you must embrace in your marriage: you simply can’t care and have strong opinions about everything. That will destroy your marriage. There’s only so many things that a happy, healthy and vibrant person can ultimately care about in 1,440 minutes every day. There’s just not enough time to care deeply about everything. When “little things” are making you angry, you won’t have any room or space 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 to figure out how to let them go so they don’t continue to fuel negativity. This question can serve as a very helpful course correction if you can really embrace it and use it often.
Let’s face it, you didn’t marry a perfect person. There are going to be some things that bug you, and you’re going to have to ask yourself, “Does this really matter?” We strongly believe that some things should really matter—addictions, abuses, neglect, unkindness, etc.—but there’s so much happening in marriage that some things just shouldn’t matter or you’ll be angry all the time and negativity will flow from you in your thinking, your tone, and ultimately in 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 use this question (“Does this really matter?”) often, you’ll find yourself with less battles and more peace.
(Adapted from their new book, The First Few Years of Marriage.)