After 29 years of marriage, it finally happened.
At three o’clock in the morning, as I went into the bathroom with the light off and my eyes half closed, I assumed the toilet seat would be down.
But I was wrong—and I fell into the toilet!
The seat has always been down. It’s just something I’ve never even thought about.
That is, until the one time it wasn’t, and my butt hit the water.
If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this story, it’s because it’s funny. But it’s also a great opportunity to share some things that I’ve learned about marriage.
My marriage has spanned nearly three decades, and it has been such an incredible journey.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Marriage Lesson #1: Let go of your expectations.
People change—and we need to let them.
If we are constantly expecting our spouse to live up to our expectations, we are going to be disappointed.
Was it uncomfortable falling into the toilet? Absolutely!
But expecting my husband to put the seat down just so my life is better is an unrealistic expectation.
You can’t control anyone’s actions but your own.
So focus on what you can do to remedy the situation rather than expecting your spouse to do something to fix it.
It’s my responsibility to check and see if the toilet seat is down. That’s an action I can take that will most definitely keep me from falling into the toilet again.
And you can better believe that next time I go to the bathroom—I’ll be checking.
My comfort is my responsibility, no one else’s.
Marriage Lesson #2: Stop playing the blame game.
In this situation, I could have easily blamed my husband for not putting the seat down. After all, he’s done it for 29 years. Why would he stop now?
Plus, he knows how much it bothers me when it’s left up.
But was it my husband’s fault for not putting the seat down, or was it my fault for not looking before I sat down in the first place?
The truth is no one is to blame. It’s just something that happened based on the circumstances at the time.
Things happen—and trying to find someone to blame is not helpful. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite and could cause hurt feelings on both sides.
This is life. Things happen. Get up, wipe yourself off, laugh a little, and move on.
Marriage Lesson #3: Try to see things from the other person’s perspective.
Trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes really is a good habit to get into.
If my husband were a bachelor, putting the seat down wouldn’t even be an issue. He would keep it up because it functions better for him.
But because he knows it bothers me when it’s up, he has put the toilet seat down every day for the past 29 years. That’s pretty amazing to think about. If he just used the bathroom once a day for those 29 years, that means he has put the toilet seat down 10,556 times!
From that perspective, I am grateful for all the midnight trips to the bathroom in the past three decades where the seat was down. It has certainly made my life easier and more comfortable.
Seeing things from a different perspective can help us to feel differently about our circumstances and even instill gratitude for what we have. At least that has been true for me.
Marriage Lesson #4: Learn to compromise.
We all have those little quirks that can drive others crazy.
For example, my husband never closes doors. He’ll open the pantry door or the cabinet door and just leave them wide open. Even his friends make fun of him about it. But it’s just something he does.
Instead of yelling at him to close the cabinet door, I just go close it myself. It obviously doesn’t bother him when the doors are open, but it bothers me. So I close them. That way, he’s not feeling bad for being yelled at, and I’m not bothered because the cabinet doors are open.
I have my own quirks that my husband has to deal with. I’m really bad about leaving dishes in the sink. I really don’t know why, but I’m kind of like a teenager in that way.
After working all day at the hospital, my husband will come home, see the dishes in the sink, and wash them. He never yells at me. He just washes my dishes and puts them away.
He has learned how to live with my quirks without getting bothered by them, and I have learned how to live with his.
There has to be a give and take in marriage. That’s what compromise is all about.
Little things may drive you crazy, but you have to decide what’s really important in those situations.
We don’t need to fight about open cabinet doors, dirty dishes in the sink, or toilet seats that have been left up. It wastes too much time and energy and causes hard feelings. It’s not worth it.
We’ve learned to be okay with each other, quirks and all.
Marriage is a relationship, and we need to learn to work together.
We’re here to support each other, not to complain about the little things.
So tomorrow when I wake up at three o’clock in the morning like I always do, I will make sure the toilet seat is down.
I will express gratitude for my husband if it is and put it down myself if it isn’t.
Because, after all, my comfort is my own responsibility.