I ran into a situation in my office again today, working with a couple in couples counseling, where a “little thing” was the focus. Couples often say after some small issue has come up that they are fighting about (like laundry, taking out the trash, loading the dishwasher, stuff in the car or on the dining room table, etc.) that they shouldn’t fight about this issue, it is too small, and they should let it go. I, at times, jump in and tell them that almost all couples that come for couples therapy bring little issues. Oh, sometimes they bring big ones (like an affair, a death, divorce, etc.) but most of the time they get into small issues—and I emphasize how important the small issues are. Yes, it is important that they learn to let go of some small things, and when they can, that is good; when they can’t let go, when something keeps bothering them, then the small thing most probably is important and is the way the they are trying to get at deeper values.
Let me emphasize how important it is for most couples to be able to get at and talk through little issues, the small things, when there are important values behind them. Sometimes we work through the small issues without the help of a couples counselor and sometimes we don’t know how to work through the small, value laden issues without that kind of help. If you find that you, as a couple, are too often arguing about small issues, it will important to work to clarify what is being argued about and that will include what are the feelings, values, issues behind the little issue. And what are you really saying, what are you really wanting, when you are arguing about the dishes (or whatever you are arguing about)?
Don’t always dismiss the little things. Of course, let go of them when you can, but when something little keeps nudging you, what is behind it? And can you as a couple talk through that “small” issue?
I hope your relationships are growing…