Matt and I have finally settled on a toothpaste we can both use. It only took us nearly 10 years to find the perfect paste.
After we were first married, we quickly learned there was much we didn’t know about each other. We were best friends, and we had spent so much time together, but being married was a completely different world. That first year of newlywed “bliss” also led us down the tough road of learning the true meaning of compromise.
Thankfully, we had firm footing in some of the more significant relationship issues because of excellent premarital counseling. And, we joined an amazing newlywed Sunday School class where we met friends and mentors who were such a support and encouragement to us as we built a foundation for our marriage in Christ.
Yet, even in the most solid relationships, there are areas that a couple must choose to work through as they become partners. Some are silly, and some can become serious.
For us, toothpaste was one of the silly sources of conflict.
I could care less about how my toothpaste comes out and how it is stored. If my teeth are clean, I am good! My husband, however, is much more particular about the way the tube is squeezed and general maintenance of the tube as the paste is being used. I also grew up as a Colgate girl, and he was a committed Crest fan.
What was a newly married couple to do?
Before I realized the friction, it was my wise idea to both use the same tube of toothpaste, especially because we had a small bathroom and we could save space. Plus, I wanted to share everything in those days.
That ended in a couple of weeks. Though I switched to Crest, because it wasn’t a make-or-break issue to me, I tend to squeeze at the top of the tube and leave it lumpy. That drove Matt crazy, and he would undo what I had done by pressing from the end and folding the tube precisely.
The final solution: we each had our separate toothpaste, stored in separate drawers.
After nearly 10 years of being quite satisfied with this agreement, Matt came home with new toothpaste this past week, in a solid bottle. There is no tube! And, we are now both sharing the same toothpaste, with no annoyances, and sparkling smiles. 🙂
Yes, this toothpaste test was incredibly trivial. But in close relationships, it is usually the unimportant details that get blown out of proportion and can fuel unneeded bitterness. Best friends, married couples and even churches can often spend their time bickering about silly, preferential issues rather than on the real problem.
If you find yourself caught up in drama, ask yourself if it really, truly matters or if it is just a matter of opinion. Be honest and share your perspective, but if your preference will be the source of unneeded conflict, pull back and pray before diving into the fray.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he urges the believers to come together:
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
– 1 Corinthians 1:10
I love that the New Living Translation uses the words “to live in harmony.” There may be differences in preference, but when people decide to live in love, those two notes can create a beautiful sound. Differences do not have to result in division. When we are united in our purpose, side issues stay on the sidelines and eventually disappear from our focus.
For us, we just had to learn why it is sometimes better to just get two tubes of toothpaste, or go for a new bottle all together.