Relationships and the Little Things
On some level, we all recognize that there will be slight disturbances; we may refer to them as little things. We get annoyed by our spouse’s habits. Most of us probably bury or ignore the annoyance or frustration. However, at some point these irritations exceed the arbitrary and fuzzily defined levels of personal acceptability; to the point where we can’t neatly tuck them away; where annoyance turns to anger and blame; when the façade fades and is replaced with bitterness, resentment, and negativity; the small doses of poisonous thoughts that we could smoothly digest secretly without symptoms become a passive aggressive comment, or shouting and fighting; the affairs within our minds become actual affairs; when our cheating thoughts become cheating in the flesh. The little things can become enormous.
It’s Us, not Them
The little things that bother us say more about ourselves than our partners. However, we end up blaming them; holding them responsible for what really is ours to own. The key to joy probably doesn’t hinge on whether our partner makes the requested change. Yet, at some point, we convince ourselves that their inability to do this little thing is evidence that they don’t really care about us. ‘If he or she can’t do this one little thing, how much can he or she really care about me.’
Therefore, we come clean and express the discontent to our partner, believing that we are being honest, convincing ourselves that we are being open. We tell ourselves that ‘good relationships are honest and open ones.’ However, we deceive ourselves.
Usually our partner, who does care about us, will attempt and achieve the desired change. But are we suddenly happy now? Of course not. Most likely the seat of our discontent moves someplace new; to a new object; to a new little thing. The same process plays out again and again. Eventually, our partner perhaps believes that they can’t do anything right. Maybe they even give up; stop trying.
It all continues until we recognize that it was never about the toilet seat and it was probably never about our partner. It was us all along. However, let us not blame ourselves harshly. Maybe we can gently look inward and be open to the possibility that the frustrations over the little things might be a symptom of something else.
With me, it’s usually about control.
Faking Love: A post on the energy we expend to make our relationships appear healthy and positive.