Reviewing Priorities

Is there something your husband or wife does that’s sure to piss you off? I’m not talking something major, like cheating or spending thousands of dollars irresponsibly. (Though those would be prime pisser offer actions.)

Rather, I’m referring to the little things. The not changing the toilet paper roll when it’s used up. The not rinsing off the dirty dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. (Or the opposite, for those of you out there who don’t see the value in rinsing dishes that are just going in the dishwasher anyway.) The leaving dirty clothes where they lay rather than putting them in the hamper.

My Priorities vs. His

One thing that I’ve mentioned before that’s sure to irritate me is if Wayne loads the dishwasher. Another thing that gripes me is when Wayne tosses stuff in the garbage that should go in the recycling pile.

As for Wayne, it really bugs him when I don’t make the bed. Since I’m usually the last one out, he feels this should fall to me and he gets really annoyed when I don’t do it. He also abhors clutter and can only take so much of me and my many piles before he’ll shuffle them all together and put the whole mess in this one big bin we have. (Thankfully not a trash bin.)

Learning About Priorities

I got to thinking about this recently when some of my teammates from my Wednesday night team got to talking about such things. It all started when Amy complained that her husband again hadn’t done something with the dishes that was forever getting on her nerves. (I forget now what it was. If not rinsing them off, maybe it was something like scraping any leftovers into the trash before setting them by the sink.)

Scott then piped up, “But you understand why he doesn’t do it, right?”

“No,” Amy said. “We’ve been married for 12 years and I just can’t believe it still hasn’t sunk in. He knows how much I hate that.”

“Yeah, well, it’s probably not ever going to change. It’s all about priorities. To you, making sure the dishes are handled a certain way is a priority. Not for him.”

Amy didn’t like hearing that, but a light dawned nonetheless. For her and me both.

Fostering R-E-S-P-E-C-T

It makes perfect sense. We do what we’re motivated to do. I’m not all that motivated to make a bed. Sometimes I feel like making it, other times I just want to leave it messy. Wayne thinks recycling is a bunch of garbage and creates more waste than it’s meant to reduce.

Neither making the bed nor recycling registers very high on our priority meters. The first step is understanding that. The next step is accepting it’s one of those things we’re not going to change about the other.

Once we accomplish those two, we can respect the fact that on those issues, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. If he wants the bed made, he can’t complain about having to do it. If I feel something should be recycled, I can salvage it from the trash and put it in the recycling bin myself without griping that I had to do that.

Maybe next time you have an issue crop up, one where you’ve groaned and moaned 20,000 times about why your spouse just can’t do [FILL IN THE BLANK], think about how it might not register on their priority meter. Then try to accept it never will. (This isn’t an easy step. You’ll probably have to remind yourself of it every time you encounter the situation.)

By looking at it in this light, it will help you understand that they’re not doing X to piss you off or because they don’t care. It’s just not one of their priorities.

Courtney Mroch writes about animals great and small in Pets and the harmony and strife that encompasses married life in Marriage. For a full listing of her articles click here.

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