"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." (Sir Winston Churchill)
I can't help but wonder...was Winston giving out some marriage advice? If not, it would certainly be appropriate.
It's one of those quotes I should cut out and tape somewhere, so I could remind myself of it every day. It seems like common sense, but after more than twenty-five years of marriage, I realize there's a twist to it that isn't obvious.
Of course, anyone who has been in a relationship very long knows exactly what it means to "leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment," and why it's important.
But "saying the right thing in the right place" is a little more complicated. When you first read it, you think it's just a reminder to complement your spouse, and perhaps express gratitude. It's so easy to get in a rut and take each other for granted.
I realize now that it's just as important to speak up about potentially volatile subjects - things you know might spark an argument, that might ruffle a few of your spouse's feathers, that you might never be able to reach a compromise about.
As a card-carrying Confrontation-Evader, I thought I was doing the right thing letting a lot of little things go. The test question for me was "Is it worth getting a divorce over this?" If the answer was no, and thank goodness it usually was, I let it go. Besides, sometimes we were so busy and stressed that it was easier to just push it aside - there was no time to argue about it.
What I didn't realize is those little things don't actually go away, no matter how you wish they would. It's like you toss them into a closet, out-of-sight, out-of-mind, forgotten...but eventually, they pile up. There's no room left in the closet. You can't even shut the door; they spill out into your path and you have to take the time to deal with them.
As Tom pointed out to me recently, not speaking up when things bother you is being deceitful. In other words, you owe it to your spouse to be bitchy sometimes. I think I can do that...for the sake of my marriage, of course.