Marriage is a funny, eye-opening thing.
Bjorn and I have been married for over 4 years, and by now, there’s no doubt that we know each other’s nuances! While we were best friends and well-acquainted even before we began dating, I’m convinced that after the wedding is when you really get to know even more little things that make the other person tick! Have you found that, too, whether with college roommates or a spouse? 🙂 Sometimes it takes living with someone to truly realize all the things that make them who they are: their little habits and routines, their small joys and also what drives them nuts.
There are small annoyances and little pet peeves that might bug your spouse but may barely hit your own radar. And then there are things that maybe you’ve thought were obvious, but they didn’t catch on to your hints or your system. The list can be as endless as we want it to be. Does he leave his socks on the floor? Do you always forget to update the budget app? Does he take your checkbook out of your purse and leave it somewhere else in the house? Do you leave toothpaste in the sink? These aren’t all personal examples from our marriage, but I bet you resonate with some of them.
I bet if I were to poll you, you’d be able to come up with a pretty extensive list of those silly frustrations and pet peeves that you and your spouse bug each other with! These often make for funny stories, especially when couples are newly married and are learning what it means to do life together. 🙂
But in the end, so many of these pet peeves are, well, petty. And we’re not called to be petty in marriage. I think that there is detail-oriented thinking and some discussions that need to happen as you build a life together and run a household together…and then, there is just plain petty thinking with an obsessive edge. 😉
Something I’ve realized in marriage so far is the fact that sometimes the little things are the big things. All pettiness and disputable matters aside, the attention you give the small things adds up big time.
For us in our marriage, this can be quantified as matching socks. 🙂
The way we’ve worked it out, I do the laundry in our household. I make sure that Bjorn has the work clothes he needs for teaching, as well as workout clothes for running and other clothing ready to go for farming tasks. I’ve developed my own little special system when I wash his army uniforms, too: check the pockets for army pens, receipts, and notepaper, remove all the patches, turn them inside out so the velcro doesn’t catch… While Bjorn does iron his own clothes (I’m so, so bad at ironing, haha), I do take my responsibility seriously to make sure his clothes are clean and ready when he needs them.
But when it came to socks, I was initially a bit in the dark! And I didn’t realize it at all until Bjorn quietly mentioned it.
I don’t know how long it took – maybe we were married about a year, if not more!! – but one day my husband lovingly told me that it really, truly would help him out if I matched his socks and folded them into pairs.
Initially, I was a little perplexed, because it never had occurred to me to match them together! Really? I thought. That seems like such a tiny, tiny thing! After all, basically all of his socks were black, and they seemed to be the same height and style.
But when I looked at them closely, there really were pairs involved. Some socks of his were slightly higher or lower cut, and there were different brands, too!
You should know, Bjorn isn’t the kind of man who gets all picky or frustrated with the little things in life. He is a big picture thinker and doesn’t worry about the small stuff like I tend to. So when he brought up the fact that he’d love for his socks to be matched, it surprised me. It seemed so…insignificant.
I distinctly remember this conversation – we were standing in the bedroom that evening. I asked him if it really would mean that much to him if I folded his socks together, and he replied, “Yeah. It really would, love.”
I thought about it.
See, I hadn’t been matching socks for at least 24 years of my life by that point. I led a fairly neat, organized life, but matching socks had never been a priority or a habit of mine. I was accustomed to reaching in my sock drawer and pulling out socks until I found a matching pair – never mind if it took a few tries. It never took more than a few seconds, usually. 🙂
But I had been directly handed an opportunity to show love to my husband in the littlest of ways. It wasn’t a demand or a rule or anything…but he had made a preference known, so, I committed to do it.
I heard once that in marriage, we should always be striving to outdo one another with acts of service. We should actually be trying to out-serve each other! Not for reasons of personal pride or the promise of something in return; it should spill out of a desire to see the other person’s ultimate good, as far as it can be attained (I’m taking a bit of a C.S. Lewis quote there). And Bjorn does so, so much for me, on a daily details basis as well as in the big picture scope of things. He is so selfless in how he loves Sophie and me and how he cares for us. I could go on and on about the ways Bjorn shows me love and how I’m grateful for him. So the simple act of folding and matching socks together was a no-brainer for me. Now that I was aware of it, of course I’d do it! I’d do it not out of obligation, but out of the love I had for Bjorn – and the desire I have to make him feel loved by me.
The matching socks conversation with my husband struck a chord with me, and awakened the thought in me that maybe, over time, these small active tasks of love add up to some significant riches on the marriage front.
So, what matters to your spouse?
What brings a smile to his face or results in an “Aww, thanks!” when he sees what you’ve done?
Is it matched socks? Perhaps not. Maybe it’s a freshly made bed to crawl into at the end of a long day, or a back rub, or a lunch packed with an encouraging note. Does your husband have a hobby or something he’s excited about, but that you’ve been indifferent towards? We are called in marriage to be each other’s cheerleaders, so consider involving yourself a little more in that. Even outside of physical or household tasks, and matched socks or not, there are ways to demonstrate our love. And over time, these acts of love earn interest!!
Honestly, though, recognition isn’t always necessary. Sometimes things that go unnoticed are just as meaningful. After all, if a task you thoughtfully do for your spouse streamlines or smoothes out their day, then that is an act of love. This aligns with the quote about the importance of the little things… “Because one day, you will realize that they were the big things.”
So now, at least once a week, I stand at the foot of our bed in the evening, I dump out the laundry basket, and I begin the careful, methodical task of matching my husband’s socks.
It’s far from exciting, and it can take a while, but I often find myself smiling as I do it and as I think about him.
Because it is my privilege and my joy to show him I love him, even in this simplest of ways.
How do you seek to encourage or help your spouse in little, tangible ways? What do you and your husband do to show you’re thinking of and appreciating each other?