Did you know that 45,000 receive an email from me every Friday with a round-up of things from the blog and social media that week?

To make sure you don’t miss anything?

And that email is usually written by Rebecca, with an extra insight or thought into where the conversation has gone.

I thought last week’s email was especially good, and wanted to share it with you, since not everyone is signed up for my email list.

And remember–you can sign up anytime, too, so you don’t miss anything, AND so you’ll get even more great content like this article!

So here’s Rebecca:

Sheila Wray Gregoire

I (Rebecca) was talking to my mom about this wet towels discussion we’ve been having on social media this week, and I have a theory.

First off, if you’ve missed what is going on, Sheila posted about the Love and Respect example of how Emerson Eggerichs leaves wet towels on the bed and the end conclusion of the anecdote is that Sarah Eggerichs just learned to stop asking her husband to not leave wet towels on the bed after he says he didn’t miss her because of her nagging when she left for a week.

It’s gross.

Then Sheila posted some boundaries people suggested a wife in this position could draw to help change the dynamic in the relationship so that she isn’t being exploited anymore. (You can see those here.)

But we had some people saying things like, “I can’t imagine blowing up a marriage over such a small thing.” Or “Just put the towels in the hamper, I don’t see the big deal.”

So I have a theory.

I think that people who really don’t seem to understand the problem with a husband being thoughtless about things like this fall into one of two camps.

First, there’s the group of women who have truly internalized the message that it is a woman’s job to serve men, including cleaning up after them, and this is simply how the world should work. This would be an example of internalized misogyny–he gets to treat her worse than he treats other people because she is his wife. It’s pretty obvious where these ones go wrong, so we’re not talking about those for the rest of this newsletter.

But second, there’s women who genuinely don’t understand that their marriage is fantastic and not normal.

Let me give you an example.

I had a brilliant friend in university who was studying chemistry. Many of her courses would have “extra credit” questions on exams, so that people had a chance to make back lost points. For this friend of mine, though, it often meant she ended up getting a 106 on a paper or a test because she would have gotten a 97-100 even without the extra credit.

Now, the way grades worked at our school, everything 90+ got the same end grade for your cGPA (10). So getting a 104 grade doesn’t actually change anything–you have 14 points to play around with before you actually start seeing your GPA drop. And it makes sense, since frankly someone who got a 92 generally does understand the material just as well as someone who got a 98 or a 100. So there was this idea of as long as you show you really understand the material, you get full marks on your transcript.

Doesn’t matter if you got a 90 or a 102, what matters is it’s clear you understood the assignment and could follow-through.

So think about a marriage that is really, really great and is founded on equality, trustworthiness, and friendship.

You can rely on each other, neither is overwhelmed or being exploited, but he leaves his clothes on the floor. Or maybe she collects coffee cups on her night stand. Or maybe one of them forgets to change the toilet paper roll.

If you’ve got 14 points to play around with, you’re probably just not going to care. Because it doesn’t matter, you’ve got a good grade. So you can cluck your tongue, toss the sweatshirt into the hamper, and laugh and move on with your day. You’ve got the wiggle room because you’ve demonstrated that, on the whole, your relationship is founded on really understanding the assignment of what goes into a healthy marriage.

At that point, the towels on the floor are simply taking you from a 100 to a 96. Or a 104 to a 92. Sure, it’s a mistake. But it’s not one that changes the overall feeling of the marriage. If you make enough of those little mistakes, yeah of course it would. But when it’s just a few little things, it really can be brushed off because it’s not emblematic of a larger pattern.

But what about someone whose marriage doesn’t have that base of excellence? What about a marriage that isn’t founded on understanding the basics of what goes into a healthy relationship?

What about a marriage that isn’t starting off with 100 points, but rather is starting off barely passing at a 54?

For marriages like these, something “small” like wet towels on the bed is a big deal because it’s emblematic of a larger issue–entitlement, laziness, inconsideration, or more. When I got back a test in university where I got a 96, I typically didn’t really bother myself stressing out over the lost 4 points because I figured a quick refresh would be all I needed. But if I got a 67 on a test I hit the books.

We need to recognize that marriages are not all the same.

Leaving wet towels on the bed is always a “mistake” the same way that a wrong answer is a wrong answer. But its impact is different based on the context of the relationship.

I think this hits the nail on the head! And I wanted to make sure that those of you who aren’t signed up to our emails still got a chance to see it.

And I wanted to invite you to sign up as well!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Wet Towel on the Bed: When Does it Matter?

So what do you think? Does this make sense to you, and what would you add to explain why the towels bother some people and not others?

Rebecca Lindenbach

Rebecca Lindenbach

Blog Contributor, Author, and Podcaster

Rebecca Lindenbach is a psychology graduate, Sheila’s daughter, co-author of The Great Sex Rescue, and the author of Why I Didn’t Rebel. Working alongside her husband Connor, she develops websites focusing on building Jesus-centered marriages and families. Living the work-from-home dream, they take turns bouncing their toddler son and baby daughter, and appeasing their curmudgeonly blind rescue Yorkshire terrier, Winston. ENTJ, 9w8. Check out Why I Didn't Rebel, or follow her on Instagram!

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