How to Deal With the Annoying, Silly Preferences of Your Spouse

How to Deal With the Annoying, Silly Preferences of Your Spouse
April 3, 2018 Matthew L. Jacobson

Unless you’re referring to someone with a frontal lobotomy, every person (even the ones who pretend they don’t) has some preferences. They’re not “right”’ or “wrong” – they just are.

You’re not picky, are you?  . . . but, your spouse, now that’s another matter entirely! He / She has an opinion about . . . everything! Right?

 Blistering hot, black coffee or lukewarm coffee with cream and sugar?

 Walking on a windy beach in winter or sitting by the fire with a good book?

 The Steelers or the Ravens?

 Chinese, Mexican, or Thai?

 Sitting with your back to the wall or in the center of the restaurant?

Please fold my t-shirts a certain way (One of my personal preferences . . . trust me, Lisa has them, too!)

When you were dating and during the first months of marriage, all those little preferences and differences were endearing – things that made your spouse interesting and loveable.

But, a few months or years into marriage and those exact same preferences often begin to migrate from endearing to annoying. How did that happen?

He / She is so picky! I don’t see why it’s so important to heat the coffee cup before the coffee goes in. It’s inconvenient and, frankly, is a waste of time.

 On one level, your spouse’s preferences aren’t important at all. If he/she gets all or none of them, life will still go on. But, when it comes to growing deep in relationship, your spouse’s preferences matter deeply– not because having or not having them fundamentally changes anything, but because of what your care in providing them is saying loudly without words.

And, there’s always a message in your service to each other.

When you take a step back, it’s easy to see that “picky” is really about “perspective”. In and of themselves, most preferences are no big deal.Please close the bathroom door all the way when you come out. Make sure the garage door is closed when you leave. Would you not set your briefcase on the bed? But when we allow them to become the “annoying” “silly” “inconvenient” “unnecessary” “frustrating” demands of our spouse, they take on a whole new power – the power to degrade your marriage relationship and begin the process of driving a wedge between each other.

Don’t give such small things so much power to destroy. It’s just not that difficult to accommodate your spouse in these small matters. It only becomes difficult because your once positive attitude about them has become negative.

The good news is that we can change our attitude. And when we change our attitude, everything changes, as if a bright light were turned on in a dimly lit room.

What does it cost to bless your husband or wife by joyfullyserving in the matter of small preferences?

Next to nothing. And, that small gesture says so much about how you love and care for each other.

Of course, you’d like your spouse to reciprocate and lovingly attend to all your preferences and desires – serving then would then be easy, wouldn’t it? But that’s not how we’re called to serve one another, is it? Doing good only in proportion to the good done to us is payback, not acting out of love.

Wise and genuinely loving husbands and wives seek to serve with joy in each other’s small preferences, not to get something in return but to make your spouse smile.


Dear Lord,

 It’s so easy to make small, insignificant acts seem like a huge burden. I don’t want to be that kind of spouse – giving only to get. Give me the heart, purpose, and resolve to serve my husband/wife well, by being positive and ready to meet his/her preferences. In fact, help me to anticipate these small desires and surprise my spouse by fulfilling them. Maybe he/she will reciprocate and maybe not but, whatever the case, help me to love him in the small preferences he has.

 Conversation Starter: “What are your favorite little things that I do to serve you. I would like to do a better job at those, just to see you smile. Is there a favorite snack you wish I would keep stocked? A little habit you wish I would stop? Is there anything you would like me to start doing or change that would make you feel more loved by me?

Let me help you pursue the best marriage, family, and Christian life God intended.
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