People talk about the 7 year itch. Seven years into marriage, apparently, people tend to get “itchy”. If you can make it through that 7 -10 year timeframe, you’re doing really well.
Well last April, I was freaking out. I broke down crying and told my husband, Erik, “In just a couple of months, we’ll hit ‘Year 7’ in our marriage. I’ve heard the 7th year is really really really hard!” He, as a good husband does, just stroked my hair and patted my shoulder while I blubbered all about my “gut feelings” and this “sense of foreboding” I had.
Well, I hate to say “I told you so” but ….
I told you so.
Our seventh year started June 4th, 2012. We barely celebrated, seeing as how we headed that week to Colorado for a family wedding. Year 7 was just fine … until our daughter, Becca, was born not breathing. That right there will rock a marriage. Add to that a long winter, family tensions, the usual stress of church planting and ministry … the 7th year was not looking so peachy.
You know how the little things are the things that cause you to finally blow up?
In our bathroom, we have a trashcan. However, when my dear husband would throw things—wrappers, empty sinus rinse packets, Q-tips etc.—toward it, they would flutter to the floor around the can. This caused great irritation for me. I silently cleaned up said wrappers for months upon months. Finally, one day we were both in there, so I calmly asked, “Can you please make sure you pick those up? Or just get them into the trash can in the first place?” (To be clear: I just asked him to confirm that in fact yes, I was nice about it. I didn’t yell. Go me!) He sighed and said, “Yeah. It just seems like everything I toss that way is so light weight, and the trashcan is so low…it all just flutters. It’s a pain to pick them up.” I said, “Well, it’s a pain for me to pick them up after you. So ….” And we left it at that. I did notice he tried harder for a while, but the problem was not solved.
And it really was a problem. Because I didn’t feel respected, and I hated cleaning up the trash on the floor. It was hard for me to not become bitter and angry, yet why would I bring it up again? That would only cause fighting and be awkward. And this harmony-lover strives (too much often times) to avoid fighting and awkwardness.
But then, in a session with a counselor we’d decided to start seeing for a “marriage check up”, we were encouraged to bring it up again. This time though, instead of just talking about it, we needed to problem solve. And so we did. And so, I bought this:
This seven dollar and 99 cent purchase just may have saved my marriage.
Now Erik can put all his little wrappers in this little trash can that sits on the counter. It’s easy to empty, the perfect size, and even looks cute.
Well worth the $7.99.
And so, as our 7th year of marriage is rapidly coming to a close, I am grateful. Grateful for the foreboding that it would be a rough year, and grateful for simple solutions to seemingly small, but actually quite big, problems.
Marriage isn’t easy, but communication and creative problem solving sure help!
Have you had a similar experience with creative problem solving in marriage? Please share!