You Drive Me Crazy!

My wife eats all of the M&M’s out of our trail mix. I stick my hand in the bag for some sweet and salty and come out with only salty.

I empty my pockets onto the fireplace mantel. She scans the living room to see her ornate mantel has become my desk.

She borrows my Chapstick. “Borrows” is synonymous with “loses.”

She awakes each morning, not to the alarm clock, but to my ankle that cracks as I attempt to silently exit the room.

She leaves the bag of cheddar cheese unsealed. Is it that hard to pinch your fingers and slide them across the top of the bag? Seriously. Those poor little shreds of cheese, exposed to the wintry oxygen of the refrigerator.

I somehow neglected to learn the fundamentals of how to load the dishwasher.

I have one place for my car keys. She stores hers in any number of 248 places in our house. Her set is currently lost in one of those places now. “At least I am consistent,” she says.

Aren’t good friends supposed to spot and warn you about these things before they let you say “I do?”

Thankfully, Shannon and I can laugh at these ways in which we drive each other crazy. And believe me, there are more serious disappointments we have with each other, ones we wish we could laugh about. Some time ago, a friend shared from his own experience. He said he came to the place in his marriage where he resolved that, even if his wife never changed her habits, he would choose to love her.

This is a paramount mile marker in the journey of a relationship. If marriage was a mountain to hike, this would be the place high up near the summit that you see from a distance and exclaim, “I’ll never get there!” The truth is we all have an imaginary list in our head of the ways we would like our spouse to change.

  • If only he lost a few pounds…
  • If only she drove faster…
  • If only he shared his feelings more…
  • If only she liked taking care of the baby…
  • If only my spouse did things the right way (i.e. the way I would do them)…

What things or habits make up your list?

Inevitably, our spouse’s failure to live up to our standard brings disappointment. Such dismay tempts us to respond in various ways. We can withdraw, blame, lecture, nag, and rage on our spouse to express his or her failure to meet our standards. We can manipulate our spouse with our own agenda, or we can find ways to passively resist. Another route, one which can almost pass as valiant, is to give up directly trying to change our husband or wife and instead try to indirectly change them by changing ourself.

Surely you have heard this advice: The best way to create change is to change yourself. You may have even heard the quote attributed to Mahatma Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see…” Anything printed on a bumper sticker probably has some truth in it, but oh if it were true all the time. I try it. I do not eat the M&M’s out of the trail mix. My wife fails to notice. I use proper form in sealing the bag of cheese. It matters not. I give up.

Often our best option is to waive a white flag.

To arrive at a place where you choose to love your spouse despite the things you would change is a position of surrender. It is the humble place where you admit powerlessness. It is a repentance of your campaign to establish your kingdom over your husband or wife.

Now let me make sure we are on the same page. There are certain categories of habits that I am not writing about here. Certainly there is a difference between the husband with a proclivity to smoke cigarettes and the husband who engages in extramarital affairs. To know how and when to tolerate certain behaviors requires an element of godly wisdom and discernment. In this particular article, I am not talking about blatant sin or addictive behavior which has the potential to rip a relationship apart, but rather the habits and mannerisms that annoy or bother spouses.

A wise woman married thirty-five years shared about coming to a point where she admitted that, had she known about her husband’s flaws prior to marriage, she may not have married him. In the dating process, it is so easy to look past the idiosyncrasies that exasperate us. The flutters of early attraction convince us the excitement of being in love will outweigh any and all disappointments.

But the years (or maybe even first months) of marriage have a funny way of blowing away the fog of naivety that once blinded us. Our spouse begins to irritate us, and resentment sets in. We begin our mental list. If you are in this place, if you have begun your campaign to enlighten your spouse to the gospel of your agenda, let me encourage you to go find your white flag buried beneath your stockpile of ammunition.

Face it, regardless of the degree to which you desire change for your husband, he will only change when he is ready. Attempts to become your wife’s life coach are fruitless without her consent. In fact, your efforts to motivate or convince your spouse likely only contribute to his or her resistance.

Bottom line: If your husband never changes, can you come to the point where you will surrender your attempts to change him? If your wife refuses to adopt your desires for her life, will you love her regardless?

Image credit: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo


Luke Brasel writes about relationships, intimacy, parenting, and Christian spirituality. He is passionate about the intersection of theology and the human heart. He has a counseling practice in Nashville, TN where he helps people follow their pain to understand their story and recover their heart. When he is not counseling, teaching, or writing, he is learning more about life and love from his wife and twin daughters. You can read his blog at and follow him on Twitter.

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