Most of us have things we are picky about – we want them just so, we want them to be done a certain way, we think one way is better than other ways. It’s rare that one person in a marriage is the only one who is picky – one may be picky about more things, but usually each has their picky preferences. I say preferences because I am talking about things where there is no right or wrong, but rather a number of ways something can be done.
For example, despite what some folks say, there is no “right way” to hang the toilet paper. In fact, unless you have a pet or small child who lives to unroll T.P. onto the floor, there is not really a better way. There are two ways, and the way you consider the way God intend it to be done is, really, just a preference.
Admitting that our preferences are, in fact, preferences, can be very difficult. Calling them preferences seems to make them less important than we want them to be. That is the problem – we tend to make far too big a deal about things that are not right or wrong, but rather are preferences.
I’m not saying preferences are wrong, nor am I suggesting we should be expected to abandon our preferences. However, we need to accept the preferences of others as being just as valid and important as our preferences. This is especially important in marriage, where refusing to see preferences as preferences can result in a lot of frustration, hurt, and worse. Always treating our own preferences as right, and our spouse’s preferences as wrong, is clearly a problem. Even seeing it in terms of more right, more valid, or more important is a problem.
Intellectually it’s possible to admit that we should see bride’s preferences as being equal to our preferences. However, there is a problem with this – it removes our internal justification for putting our preferences over hers! How can I feel good about having my preferences “win out” more often than her preferences if I see us as having equal worth and value? If what I prefer is not morally, logically or innately better than what she prefers, I will have to “give in” more often.
Wait, never mind, forget the whole thing – it was clearly a bad idea. We are men, what we prefer is clearly better and more important. Excuse me while I go flip the toilet paper over to the way it should go.