One of the weirder habits I have is that I name the inanimate objects in our home. From Stu to Bamboo to our coffee pot, Cole, most of our possessions have a name. There's Clark, the closet door and Sparky, the mail scale. Adele the Orchid, of course, need not be forgotten.
Early in our marriage, I realized there were a few things Chris and I did differently around the house. While I'd like to be an easy going, low key chick who doesn't care if the house is tidy, it's not who I am. I realized I could either nag Chris about some of the little things that bother me, or we could make it a game by personifying our possessions.
If I walk into the bathroom and the toilet seat, Tommy, is up, I exclaim, Chris! You are not going to believe this. Tommy did a trick! He stood up on his own. And then Chris laughs and puts the toilet seat down. If we're on vacation and it happens, I'll walk out of the bathroom and look at Chris really seriously (/laughing) and tell him I had no idea he'd invited Tommy on our vacation.
Writing this makes me sound a little bit crazy, I realize. But! It has taught me a lot about managing expectations with your significant other, as well as not taking the little things too seriously. Like I said, I'd love to be someone who just doesn't care if the toilet seat is up or down, but that isn't who I am. I feel respected and valued when Chris remembers to do put it down. Conversely, if he leaves it up, it kind of hurts my feelings.
I've learned in the last year that the only way for our significant others to understand what matters to us is to tell them. How could he ever know that I want him to shut the closet door at bedtime if I don't ask him to do it? And how could I know what little things bother him if he doesn't do the same?
During our engagement, we took part in Matt Chandler's Mingling of Souls conference. Something Matt said that really stuck with me is this:
The root of all conflict is unmet expectation.
During the last 11 months, I've learned that nothing could be more true. The little things, which can be easy to forget to talk about, can really fester in your marriage if you don't communicate them. On the flip side, though, when we over communicate, we can defuse almost anything pretty quickly. One of the rules we both try to live by is that we never want to be afraid of telling each other things. From disappointment to frustration to confusion, we have agreed upon an oversharing policy.
One of our mantras is: I want to be brave enough to tell you anything and, in turn, I want to believe you're strong enough to hear it.
Believing Chris is strong enough to hear anything - from disappointments to a confession that I had a dream about my ex (whut!?) - indicates that I believe in his strength. It can be tempting not to tell each other things, with the hope of protecting each other. What marriage has taught me is that this actually disables one another, while being honest empowers us.
I've only been married 350 days and have a whole lot to learn, but if there is one thing I hope we can do in our relationship, it is to empower one another.