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DO Sweat the Small Stuff — It Could Save Your Marriage

Which spouse sweats the small stuff?

You’ve heard it over and over, from your friends, from Cosmo, from your mother: Don’t sweat the small stuff. But is this really the best advice?

Sure, in many instances, I agree that getting hung up on trivial issues is a bad idea. Example: My husband has problems putting his socks in the hamper. I have even suspected that he is intentionally leaving socks in random places for me to stumble upon, like some sort of bizarre stay-at-home-mom egg hunt. Why else would there be a clean, rolled-up pair of socks chilling next to the toaster?

Are socks on the counter a reason to sweat the small stuff?

Why?

But, after close observation, I realized my husband often grabs socks from his drawer on his way downstairs. He then places them somewhere and goes about his morning routine. By the time he’s ready to put on said socks and sneakers, he has no idea where he put them and so he ends up jogging up to retrieve another pair. I later find the original pair among the apples in my fruit bowl. If he can forget in a 20-minute span where he put a fresh pair of socks, it’s safe to assume he’s going to forget about the dirties he pulled off his feet and tossed over his shoulder into the girls’ Lego bin. Does this sock epidemic annoy me? Yes, it does. Do I lose my glasses approximately 15 times a day? Yes, I do.

You know how some people have a photographic memory? My husband and I, our memory is more like a Polaroid picture when it first comes out, just a foggy blur of something vague.

polaroid, undeveloped picture

So I don’t get mad. I pick them up and say, “Seriously?” I gather them and build a pyramid on top of his laptop. I joyfully toss any with holes into the garbage. Life goes on.

That being said, there are some situations when a few beads of perspiration could save the small stuff from avalanching into a giant ball of rage — like my next example.

The First Time

A few months back, I was on my way home from dance class when I commanded Siri to call my husband at home on speakerphone.

“Yo,” he answered, which is our standard greeting.

“Hey, I’m stopping for coffee… do you want—?”

“Can’t talk,” he cut me off abruptly.

“Okay…,” I said.

“Byeee,” he sang back, before hanging up.

No big deal. I totally get it. He’s home with both girls, it’s lunch time, so he’s probably putting out fires, perhaps literally. I go ahead and grab him an iced coffee anyway. He’s pleased. I don’t even bring up the phone convo. For what? I’ve already forgotten about it.

The Second Time

A few weeks go by and, once again, I’m leaving the dance studio after a rehearsal for the Farm to Ballet Project. I’m itching for a mani/pedi, but I want to run it by him first.

“Yo,” he answers.

“Yo, is it cool if I go get my nails—”

“Can’t talk.”

“Wait, can I get my nails done?!”

“Byeee.” Click.

Ok, strange feelings are happening inside me. Annoyance? Anger? I’m about to call him back when my phone rings and a goofy picture of my husband pops up. I shrug off my irritation. He called me right back, right? Again, I get it. I’m a stay-at-home-mom to 4- and 2-year-old girls. It’s a miracle he even answered the phone by the final ring. So I say nothing, especially since he happily gives me his mani-pedi blessing. That was so silly that I got mad!

The Third Time AKA the Final Straw

It’s a busy weekend for Farm to Ballet. We have a Saturday performance in Woodstock, followed by a Sunday show in Poultney, not far from Rutland. To avoid back-and-forth travel, we are doing an overnight in Rutland at one of the dancer’s childhood home. It’s amazing. There’s an attic with seven beds, there’s a pool, and there’s pizza on the way. I’m literally at a slumber party with a dozen of my ballerina friends and it’s a total blast.

But, you guys, I miss my babies. I can’t help it. I’m a mom, remember. So I call home.

“Yo.”

“Hiiiii! We just got to the house. How are the gi—…”

“Can’t talk.”

“Wait, I’d really like to talk to Violet! Can you put—”

“Byeee.” Click.

Deep breaths. OK, he’s busy. He’s solo the whole weekend while I’m dusting off my Ouija board with my friends. I should cut him some slack, right? He’s probably doing bedtime.

But… if he’s doing bedtime, I’m not going to get a chance to talk to my daughters tonight. If he’s doing bedtime, I’m not going to hear their sweet voices. I call his cell phone and it goes straight to voicemail. I dial it repeatedly — voicemail, voicemail, voicemail. There it is, coming up fast, the rage. I actually feel myself turning red from my toes up to my forehead like some sort of old-school cartoon character. But instead of steam coming out of my ears, the steam comes out of my fingertips, which are now furiously texting everything I have held in for the past two months regarding my husband’s phone etiquette.

Due to the blog’s policy on language, I can’t write here what I texted verbatim, but let’s just say I put it all out there.

Maria is irritated by the small things her husband does.

How rude it is to be cut off in the middle of talking. Send. How badly I was hoping to speak with my children. Send. How infuriating that singsong “Byeee” is. Send. I finish it off with a chilly “Good night” to indicate that the conversation is over. Send.

Then I wait, staring at my screen, my heart pounding, tears starting to form. Is he seriously not going to respond? Is he really not going to call me back? The singsong “Byeee” keeps playing in my ear. The same every single time. Like, what is his problem? Byeee… byeee… byeee. No, seriously, it actually sounds exactly the same every time.

And just like that, an old Polaroid picture, one that I took months and months ago during a cold winter night when we had nothing better to do, starts coming into focus.

I think back to the other instances. The first time — his pleasantly surprised “Oh, nice!” when I brought him iced coffee. The second time — his matter-of-fact “Hey, I saw that you called” when he immediately returned my call. My general amazement that he was able to answer the phone at all.

Oh, my. That old Polaroid picture? It’s crystal clear now. He never made it to the phone at all.

That whole “Yo… (pause)… can’t talk… (pause)… byeee (click)”? Oh, goodness gracious, that is the outgoing message on our answering machine, the one we recorded last winter that we thought was so hilarious. I let my own answering machine send me into an epic meltdown that rivaled some of my 2-year-old’s tantrums.

Please disregard the last texts. Will explain later. Send. New strange feeling inside: embarrassment.

Did my husband and I have a good laugh over this? Of course we did. Would I have saved myself a night of frustration if I had been a “nag” and said something to him the first time it happened, which would have brought to light the realization that we should probably change our outgoing message, especially since my husband admitted he actually fooled himself once and thought some random dude was answering the phone at our house? Absolutely.

What did I learn? Some things are worth a little bit of sweat, even if sweaty socks isn’t one of them.

man, woman

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