Marriage Advice | Keep the Small Stuff Small

When couples argue, it’s all too common for past problems to come up. When tensions are high and emotions are raging, we can’t help but roll all of the problems into one, focusing our anger toward the person for ALL of their actions, instead of the issue at hand.

We’ve spoken before about keeping your spousal disagreements on topic – that you can’t solve every problem at once, and need to focus on points of disagreement one at a time. It is absolutely essential to get to the root of the problem if you ever intend to solve it.

This applies to more than just arguments with your spouse, though. In the same way that a certain event or action may trigger an argument – which can, in turn, become a much larger fight – certain patterns of behavior can cause one spouse to harbor resentment toward another. When this happens, it is much worse than the fight that tries to take on too many issues. Instead, a couple may find themselves fighting for no reason, simply because feelings of animosity have been building over time.

Just like I’ve suggested getting to root of your arguments with your spouse, you also must get to the root of your feelings toward them. Is there some habit of theirs that just drives you nuts? Is there some small thing that puts you on edge every time they do it? A small but regularly occurring action (like leaving the toilet seat up, to use the old cliché), can balloon into a serious issue – even if that issue is never even mentioned specifically.

In other words, little things can wear on our patience, and even if we are not aware of it, they can become the catalyst for tensions at home. What seems totally harmless, or at its worst, a mild frustration, plants a seed for speaking to one another harshly, blowing other issues out of proportion, or simply fixating on a minor problem and turning it into a major issue.

Just as you should steer the arguments you do have toward a single issue, you should also be aware of the minor things that may be causing tension in your marriage – and avoid some of the arguments altogether. These small things are usually pretty easy to take care of, as long you don’t let them build into a bigger issue.

If something is frustrating you, don’t wait until the middle of a fight to let your partner know. When you deal with the small stuff right away, it stays small!

To learn how to strengthen your marriage and for more marriage advice, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage


Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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6 comments

judy law 9 years ago

my husband and i have grown apart in many ways. ive been trying for almost a year now to recindle things.he says theres no problem but there definatly is. we talk all shop talk and never personal, he has no interest in it. Since an accident 4 yrs ago that took my teeth, (i now have a top denture) and it destroyed my self asteem and he has never looked at me the same,he says thats crazy but i totally feel it.we hv had discussions periodicly about the situation and he says he promisses to pay more attention to my feelings and soo on. well we recently spent a weekend apart, he went off w the guys to our camp, i sent him slightly naughty pics on his way home telling him cant wait to see you, we had verbal exchanges about shop stuff ,he never even mentioned the pics and after feeling stupid i deleted them and he didnt respond to that either...do you have any advice

SW 9 years ago

Judy, I emphathize with you. There has been a definite loss of affection and attention in my marriage also over the last year from my husband. We've had a lot of difficult situations over the years that seem to have worn our relationship out, and we hadn't spent much time trying to figure out how to handle them when they occurred. Anyway, about a year ago any "romance" that we've had just seemed to really drop from our relationship. I'm older than him by 4-1/2 years, and now that I'm 53 and I wonder how much my looks have made a difference in how he sees me. I've read that men are definitely more visual and how that makes them feel towards women, but I don't know. Anyway, my husband made contact with another woman who is 14 years younger than him, and it blew me away. He pretty much stopped texting/talking to her, but I feel helpless to make any change in how he sees me anymore. He wants to end our marriage, and says it's just because of how he doesn't trust me due to our rough situation. I'm not sure how to help him see that we could make a successful relationship happen through using this program, so I'm trying to make changes in myself using the program, and turn myself around in how I handle things. Most of all, when things seem impossible, I find the best thing that helps me keep life in perspective is to pray! It gives me a sense of who I really am. I want a healthy relationship that we haven't experienced much of, but I can't control his thoughts or feelings. I can only keep it in prayer and ask for wisdom and insight in our relationship, and see my value in God's eyes. It gives me hope and a sense of importance, within a marriage or without. God bless you. Sera

Mardi 6 years ago

I work on my husband's angry switch all the time...not on intentionally. We were raised completely different as children, he is a neat freak and i'm really laid back. Our house is never dirty or filthy, but we do have an 18 month old little boy...he always leave his toys scattered around the house, touching things with sticky fingers. my hubby can't stand it. He's OCD, which makes it very hard, he hates things laying around and gets instantly upset when he sees the chaos of toys in the living room. I tried telling him that, that is what children do at that age. Pick a toy, lose interest and move to the next object he fancies. I'm a stay at home mom, I said i'll walk behind our son all day everyday and pick up whatever he drops on the floor. Which will be ridiculous, so he agreed that after playing and ge goes to bed things should get tidy again. That arrangement did not last at all, we get into countless of fights because of this. What can I do, he's a busy little boy, how can I expect him to not play with toys he picked from his box, if daddy is home I can't let him do anything that causes things to be all over the floor. I hate fighting about this, hubby works 14 hours and I understand that when he gets home he expects a clean and orderly one. Our son asleep and well dinner ready...and bloody hell if that doesn't happen that way...son is still awake coz I need to make dinner, I bathed him and fed him, now things should be done as he wants at a certain time or i'm in the dog house. I can't do 5 things at once, I try but it's impossible. He almost always comes home to Wade that is still awake and tired...so he's moody. hubby is tired, so he gets extremely mad that I don't do what he asked me, he really didn't bond well with Wade when he was born, and being the angry daddy all the time Wade finds him scary and almost a stranger, they rarely see each other or play, hubby works hard, 7 days a week, 14 hours. Have absolutely no quality family time at all, its like the two males in my life are pulling on my arms in opposite directions at the same time. I want them to be closer and at peace with each other, that boy is his father cut too the core, stubborn, very very very strong willed and difficult. So i'm always in the middle, hubby feels left out, when he comes home he wants time with me...alone. but what about our boy. He needs time with him too. Hubby is recently diagnosed with Bipolar, it explained a lot of things to me, why he is the way he is? But the anger and shouting is driving his son away, and Wade is doing it too. He screams at me, hits me because he sees daddy fighting with mommy so that is normal to do what he sees. Hubby needs to be on medication, but he is stalling the appointment. He can't, he has to work, if he doesn't he doesn't get paid. No work no pay, and this is soooo important for us as a family to get him some help and on the right meds! We really fight so much about the smallest things, last three weeks it turned for the worst I went to my mom for two weeks, when I came to visit we fought the entire time, because his son refuses to go to him, that hurts him and he takes that hurt out on me with anger. Sometime he got violent in the past by pushing me and hurting me just by grabbing me...that I have bruises, he doesn't think when he does that, he just reacts. he becomes a stranger and I can't see any of my husband in those eyes when he turns into the hulk. Yesterday morning he grabbed and threw me against our dining room bar counter, hit my ribs. Couldn't move for a while, he didn't stop with me, the dining room chairs was next, completely bent the legs from the force of throwing them against the wall. He destroys anything that comes insight, all this in front of our son. Screaming his head off, but far out of the danger zone. He never hurt our son before, and i'll fight him if he ever tries, not that he will but i'm scared that one day it's going to happen whether by accident from flying chairs or hitting him too hard when giving a hiding. Hubby doesn't know just how strong he becomes when he's angry. And he almost never remembers most of it. I know I cause a lot of outbursts, but only because I am being myself. He is really a wonderful man, he had a terrible past. I'm not making excuses or anything but he really has no idea what he's doing in that moment. As a teenager, I had so much anger in me, I got a black blank and attacked when I was provoked even in the smallest non threatening way because of my past. I was a living hell when I got angry and even took on men twice my size. I was a terror, everybody knew it and was extremely careful about what they said to me...no telling what triggered my anger, I never remember the episodes. I know what that uncontrollable anger feels like, how the guilt accompanies the event that occurred, from kicking my mom in her knee almost dislocating it, bulling my sisters, hitting them when I felt like they are annoying. It is terrible to do things that u can't help. I was so destructive and horrible that my family was against me...I didn't care, it fed the fire inside me until one day, I just stopped. I was 21, and remembered that day as clear as crystal, I just stopped that behaviour. Didn't know how or why it stopped, it just did. I think I made a mental choice to stop hurting the people I love and that cares for me...I need to protect like I always did, nobody touched my sisters or friends, very protective like a mommy bear over her cubs, but yet there I was, their big sister hurting in ways so much worse any person could. My choice was to stop, and I did, and it was like a switch. Was back then and...SWITCH....normal big sister, apologised for the years of torture I put my family through and started moving on. I told hubby that the choice is still yours to make about giving the fire fuel or water, he says he can't do it. It just happens, I think he holds on too that part of himself unknowingly to protect him self from getting hurt. I know that because I was the same, he doesn't believe me when I told I was just like him...only in my teen years and not in my thirties. he can't get around the fact that I know what he goes through every time he feels ready to explode and go nuclear. How can a girl get so angry that she loses the sight of reality and acts out in violence that is almost impossible to stop. I said ask my uncles my way bigger and stronger uncles, al 4 of them it took to hold me down from an episode I had at my cousins Birthday party when I was 15. 4 grown men it took to hold down...a girl...a very mad 15 year old girl that has major anger issues. Anyway, i've been typing for over an hour on this using my phone...hubby went away for two weeks, so i'm relaxing for the first time since being back. I don't wanna feel like that, scared and on my tippy toes around him all the time...always looking out for the next trigger, he really is not violent towards me every time. He yells most of the time he's angry or get in his car and goes missing for a couple of hours till sometimes up to 3 days. He says he does that rather then to risk hurting or the fighting getting worse, but running never ever sold that problem we had at that moment. I don't get upset easily, I get sad and he knows I withdraw when what he said or did hurt me deep. He can't take it when I just switch my feelings off, but I don't. I just chose not to show or feel anything in that time, rather than hurting and feeling like i'm weak. I try to compose myself when I go to my special place in my mind...I know if I ever have to get angry like I did in the past when i'm with hubby when he is angry, we'll probably kill each other. I never start a fight or take him on, challenging like I would have done a few years ago. I didn't let anyone let alone a man treat like that, now I have to hold back, keep calm and sane. Not giving that little spark a chance to turn into a forest fire. Can't fight fire with fire, and I know it will be a big mistake to get angry, really angry when he is too. He saw me angry once, and he hated the person I turned into, I was mean, hurtful and so so freakin bitchy to him. Thank goodness he was calm that day and just left me at home to cool down...that made me more mad, I wasn't finished now he just ups and leaves there fuming with unresolved issues. he told if he ever sees that person again, she'll regret it. He just doesn't know that I feel exactly like that, when he becomes that monster. But unfortunately I don't make the rules...I need help to set certain boundaries...how to approach delicate subjects but really necessary and important. Sorry, no judgement needed about this post. I just came to get some advice on anything that I mentioned. This just turned out to be longer than I thought its going to be. First time doing anything like this online, and had a bottle of Wine next to me...I don't drink at all but needed some encouragement I guess.

Mardi 6 years ago

I work on my husband's angry switch all the time...not on intentionally. We were raised completely different as children, he is a neat freak and i'm really laid back. Our house is never dirty or filthy, but we do have an 18 month old little boy...he always leave his toys scattered around the house, touching things with sticky fingers. my hubby can't stand it. He's OCD, which makes it very hard, he hates things laying around and gets instantly upset when he sees the chaos of toys in the living room. I tried telling him that, that is what children do at that age. Pick a toy, lose interest and move to the next object he fancies. I'm a stay at home mom, I said i'll walk behind our son all day everyday and pick up whatever he drops on the floor. Which will be ridiculous, so he agreed that after playing and ge goes to bed things should get tidy again. That arrangement did not last at all, we get into countless of fights because of this. What can I do, he's a busy little boy, how can I expect him to not play with toys he picked from his box, if daddy is home I can't let him do anything that causes things to be all over the floor. I hate fighting about this, hubby works 14 hours and I understand that when he gets home he expects a clean and orderly one. Our son asleep and well dinner ready...and bloody hell if that doesn't happen that way...son is still awake coz I need to make dinner, I bathed him and fed him, now things should be done as he wants at a certain time or i'm in the dog house. I can't do 5 things at once, I try but it's impossible. He almost always comes home to Wade that is still awake and tired...so he's moody. hubby is tired, so he gets extremely mad that I don't do what he asked me, he really didn't bond well with Wade when he was born, and being the angry daddy all the time Wade finds him scary and almost a stranger, they rarely see each other or play, hubby works hard, 7 days a week, 14 hours. Have absolutely no quality family time at all, its like the two males in my life are pulling on my arms in opposite directions at the same time. I want them to be closer and at peace with each other, that boy is his father cut too the core, stubborn, very very very strong willed and difficult. So i'm always in the middle, hubby feels left out, when he comes home he wants time with me...alone. but what about our boy. He needs time with him too. Hubby is recently diagnosed with Bipolar, it explained a lot of things to me, why he is the way he is? But the anger and shouting is driving his son away, and Wade is doing it too. He screams at me, hits me because he sees daddy fighting with mommy so that is normal to do what he sees. Hubby needs to be on medication, but he is stalling the appointment. He can't, he has to work, if he doesn't he doesn't get paid. No work no pay, and this is soooo important for us as a family to get him some help and on the right meds! We really fight so much about the smallest things, last three weeks it turned for the worst I went to my mom for two weeks, when I came to visit we fought the entire time, because his son refuses to go to him, that hurts him and he takes that hurt out on me with anger. Sometime he got violent in the past by pushing me and hurting me just by grabbing me...that I have bruises, he doesn't think when he does that, he just reacts. he becomes a stranger and I can't see any of my husband in those eyes when he turns into the hulk. Yesterday morning he grabbed and threw me against our dining room bar counter, hit my ribs. Couldn't move for a while, he didn't stop with me, the dining room chairs was next, completely bent the legs from the force of throwing them against the wall. He destroys anything that comes insight, all this in front of our son. Screaming his head off, but far out of the danger zone. He never hurt our son before, and i'll fight him if he ever tries, not that he will but i'm scared that one day it's going to happen whether by accident from flying chairs or hitting him too hard when giving a hiding. Hubby doesn't know just how strong he becomes when he's angry. And he almost never remembers most of it. I know I cause a lot of outbursts, but only because I am being myself. He is really a wonderful man, he had a terrible past. I'm not making excuses or anything but he really has no idea what he's doing in that moment. As a teenager, I had so much anger in me, I got a black blank and attacked when I was provoked even in the smallest non threatening way because of my past. I was a living hell when I got angry and even took on men twice my size. I was a terror, everybody knew it and was extremely careful about what they said to me...no telling what triggered my anger, I never remember the episodes. I know what that uncontrollable anger feels like, how the guilt accompanies the event that occurred, from kicking my mom in her knee almost dislocating it, bulling my sisters, hitting them when I felt like they are annoying. It is terrible to do things that u can't help. I was so destructive and horrible that my family was against me...I didn't care, it fed the fire inside me until one day, I just stopped. I was 21, and remembered that day as clear as crystal, I just stopped that behaviour. Didn't know how or why it stopped, it just did. I think I made a mental choice to stop hurting the people I love and that cares for me...I need to protect like I always did, nobody touched my sisters or friends, very protective like a mommy bear over her cubs, but yet there I was, their big sister hurting in ways so much worse any person could. My choice was to stop, and I did, and it was like a switch. Was back then and...SWITCH....normal big sister, apologised for the years of torture I put my family through and started moving on. I told hubby that the choice is still yours to make about giving the fire fuel or water, he says he can't do it. It just happens, I think he holds on too that part of himself unknowingly to protect him self from getting hurt. I know that because I was the same, he doesn't believe me when I told I was just like him...only in my teen years and not in my thirties. he can't get around the fact that I know what he goes through every time he feels ready to explode and go nuclear. How can a girl get so angry that she loses the sight of reality and acts out in violence that is almost impossible to stop. I said ask my uncles my way bigger and stronger uncles, al 4 of them it took to hold me down from an episode I had at my cousins Birthday party when I was 15. 4 grown men it took to hold down...a girl...a very mad 15 year old girl that has major anger issues. Anyway, i've been typing for over an hour on this using my phone...hubby went away for two weeks, so i'm relaxing for the first time since being back. I don't wanna feel like that, scared and on my tippy toes around him all the time...always looking out for the next trigger, he really is not violent towards me every time. He yells most of the time he's angry or get in his car and goes missing for a couple of hours till sometimes up to 3 days. He says he does that rather then to risk hurting or the fighting getting worse, but running never ever sold that problem we had at that moment. I don't get upset easily, I get sad and he knows I withdraw when what he said or did hurt me deep. He can't take it when I just switch my feelings off, but I don't. I just chose not to show or feel anything in that time, rather than hurting and feeling like i'm weak. I try to compose myself when I go to my special place in my mind...I know if I ever have to get angry like I did in the past when i'm with hubby when he is angry, we'll probably kill each other. I never start a fight or take him on, challenging like I would have done a few years ago. I didn't let anyone let alone a man treat like that, now I have to hold back, keep calm and sane. Not giving that little spark a chance to turn into a forest fire. Can't fight fire with fire, and I know it will be a big mistake to get angry, really angry when he is too. He saw me angry once, and he hated the person I turned into, I was mean, hurtful and so so freakin bitchy to him. Thank goodness he was calm that day and just left me at home to cool down...that made me more mad, I wasn't finished now he just ups and leaves there fuming with unresolved issues. he told if he ever sees that person again, she'll regret it. He just doesn't know that I feel exactly like that, when he becomes that monster. But unfortunately I don't make the rules...I need help to set certain boundaries...how to approach delicate subjects but really necessary and important. Sorry, no judgement needed about this post. I just came to get some advice on anything that I mentioned. This just turned out to be longer than I thought its going to be. First time doing anything like this online, and had a bottle of Wine next to me...I don't drink at all but needed some encouragement I guess.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 6 years ago

Hi Mardi - Honestly, this is an abusive situation. He is abusive to you mentally, physically, and emotionally, and your son is seeing it all. That isn't to say divorce is inevitable, but I think you need to stay with your mother, letting your husband know you won't be returning until he sees the doctor and you both see a marriage counselor, and his behavior begins to change. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/separation-viable-option/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 6 years ago

Hi Mardi - Honestly, this is an abusive situation. He is abusive to you mentally, physically, and emotionally, and your son is seeing it all. That isn't to say divorce is inevitable, but I think you need to stay with your mother, letting your husband know you won't be returning until he sees the doctor and you both see a marriage counselor, and his behavior begins to change. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/separation-viable-option/