To the Irritated Wife . . .

Marriage Michelle Lindsey March 10, 2015

To the irritated wifeDear Irritated Wife,

If pretty much everything your husband does irritates you, this letter is for you.

Remember when you were first in love with him and he made you smile nonstop? His jokes were hilarious and the sound of his voice made you melt. You could barely stand to be away from him and counted the seconds until his return. Those were beautiful days. And then life happened. You had bills to pay, cars to fix, dogs to walk and kids to feed. The next thing you know, he’s not funny or cute, and you glare more than you smile.

I am not saying this is ok. I am just saying it happens. But it can be fixed.

I think we get into a habit of being annoyed. It becomes natural to correct him, mother him, nag him, roll your eyes at him. But each of these things undercuts intimacy and threatens closeness. Soon, both spouses start to avoid each other, for fear of being criticized. The friendship must be preserved all all cost, so you are just going to have to snap yourself out of being negative, like I have to. But I have seen victory in this area because I realized I was letting things get blown out of proportion.

The other night our five year old was sleeping with us. She is the baby so everyone vies for her, and bribes her into bunking with them. She plays musical beds each night, dragging her stuffed bunny to wherever the sweetest deal is. Finally, Daddy won. She crawled into our bed soon drifted off to sleep, only to start promptly coughing. After a couple of hours my husband said,

“I can’t sleep with her coughing. Can you take her out?”

That meant I got to crawl in with her and her brother in a twin sized bed across the hall. As I settled into my 4 inches of mattress I started feeling bitter. Why is it that mothers are the ones who get vomited on when kids are sick? Why doesn’t he sit up all night? And what if I was away or something, would he just let her suffer?

I imagined so many things that were just from my imagination, but I believed them anyway. I couldn’t sleep because I was so irritated that he expected me to be uncomfortable all night so he could rest. Then he started snoring. So loud I could feel the floor vibrating. I lay there seething. I must be some kind of saint, mothering these kids the way I do. I then started to think of all of the other things that made me mad in recent days. By morning I didn’t even want to look at his face. I walked into the bedroom as he was putting on his socks.  The socks I had just washed and dried and folded.

In my most curious sounding voice I said, “So, do you think I am able to sleep through coughing?”

He asked, “Can you?” (He looked genuinely impressed.)

“No. But that is a mother’s love,” I explained.

And then I added, “And you were snoring so loud I could barely hear the coughing.” 

He looked so confused. We had no harsh words previously, and here I was pulling the love-of-a-mother card on him. I was justifying how I felt, because I just really wanted to be mad! But when we whip out the microscope, we can find all sorts of annoying things to be upset at. And we conveniently forget to notice our own flaws. Of course, I had to apologize for being so short with him. But he didn’t seem too phased. He had barely been awake twenty minutes.

I would like to appreciate how frustrated you might get at times, but also encourage you to remember all of the amazing things your husband does. Let the good outshine the bad. Assume he has good intentions. Believe the best. These are hard rules to live by, especially when you are married to a sinful human. But he is married to one too, so we have no choice but to forgive often and let things go. Well, we can hold onto grudges and live in misery, but that isn’t what I want for any of us.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” —1 Corinthians 13:7

I was able to bear the snoring and coughing. I believed he knew our daughter would be calmer with me near her. I hoped he understood how I felt. I endured because I am so grateful for the good gifts I have, so being petty is pointless.