How Important is It?


One of the things that my husband used to do that tightened my jaw and neck muscles was to leave debris in the kitchen sink. Now, he’s a very tidy fellow, but a clean sink does not make his list of priorities.  I have to admit, I let him know it bugged me.  Naturally, the outcome was entirely predictable. Instead of throwing kisses as we worked together in the kitchen, we threw words.  It was not a pretty picture.

Finally, after much too long, I got it.  I learned to ask myself, “How important is it?”  He’d just cleaned the kitchen for heaven’s sake, but I was focusing on the one thing that perturbed me.  Now if I want a clean sink, I know where to find the sponge.

Our bedroom is another area where this principle has metamorphosed discord into harmony. My husband and I had always disagreed about which way the openings of the pillow cases face when we made the bed.  He was firmly convinced they should face inward toward the middle, while I was sure they should face outward toward the edges of the bed.  I often found myself being annoyed with him when he insisted on making the bed his way.

One day when I was making the bed alone, I asked myself, “How important is it?”  The answer was that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t at all important.  At that moment, my heart melted, and I decided I could give him the gift of making the bed his way.  Now whenever I make the bed, with or without him, I turn the openings of our two pillows to face each other.  This feels so much better.  It sure beats the divisive feelings I used to get when I had to have it my way.

If I catch myself feeling annoyed at something my husband says or does, I can save a lot of hard feelings and energy by asking, “How important is it?”

Note: Since I wrote this story about 3 1/2 years ago, my spouse has adopted a new mantra, “The sink is not a garbage can,” which he cheerfully sings as he cleans the sink.  Additionally, we have purchased envelope pillow cases that have an extended flap on the bottom side, which folds over the exposed pillow.  A perfect solution for both of us.




3 comments to How Important is It?

  • Linda

    Wow! When I stop and think about it, life is rich with opportunities for creating diversity or peace in tiny little ways. Each tiny little way is monumental in it’s impact. Therefore, if I am not a peace, I can understand why if I am willing to take responsibility.

  • Marilyn

    I have always loved this story. Instead of gratitude we frequently have irritation when something is done for us because it wasn’t “our way”.
    My mother would come and stay with me after a baby was born. She would cook meals, clean the house, do dishes, do the laundry and help me learn how to take care of a baby. Once after she left, I was grumbling about not being able to find things in the cabinets because she put them in a different place. One night I was complaining about how long it took me to find a certain skillet. My husband who was a man of few words but when he spoke had such wisdom said, Would you rather all of the dishes and pots and pans were sitting dirty on the cabinet?” Stopped my looking at what someone didn’t do and looked at what they did the rest of my life.

  • Anne

    Thank you, Linda and Marilyn. Beautiful comments.

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