The Secret List

You’d think after more than a quarter century together, we’d not get uptight about sink basket strainers. I honestly did not have ANY idea that it made a HUGE difference how often I had NEGLECTED to put the sink basket strainer in properly.  I recently found out. 

I think there’s a secret list couples keep from one another, until other things pile up on the grievance side of life and then all of the sudden every foible is magnified and irrationality ensues. Suddenly stupid sink basket strainers rank high on the list of relational offenses. Secret lists are usually unimportant acts, that aren't all THAT bothersome---until the stress levels reach the red zone. Holidays intensify red zones.

Secret lists are just that: Secret. You can’t really draw them out during courtship. Sorry. One stumbles upon them after the knot is tied. Marriage longevity depends on many things. Couples deal with day-to-day life, the occasional crisis and THEN there’s coping with the secret list.

Neglectful sink basket strainers shouldn't qualify as irreconcilable differences. Nor should lights that are left on (my list). Yet in the heat of the moment, we can look at one another wondering what we could possibly have in common. That's when the inner stoplight needs to come on. 

The trick, I am learning, is to laugh. Hopefully not at the wrong time—as if to make the other one appear like a trivial complainer—but to honor the grievance with a smile and willingness to see life from the other side of the relationship.

In many ways that’s a big key to happiness in all our relationships. It's not about sink basket strainers; it's striving to live life from the vantage of what makes someone else’s life happier.

Since the incident, I’ve been ever so diligent to get those sink basket strainers properly placed. And I smile as I do because I know that making someone else happy helps make me happy too. Happiness has a way of subtracting stress from the equation.

So bring on the holidays, be on the look out for the secret list and remember to smile.

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