I think something a lot of people struggle with is the idea that to have a healthy, thriving marriage, that you need to talk through every bump in the road. There is that inherent fear that one undiscussed blip in a marriage could be the seed to lasting resentment. While I agree that a pattern of compartmentalization is potentially destructive in the long run, there are many instances that you need to let things go. Now that I have put the Frozen song in your head, spare me a minute, and let’s discuss this a bit deeper.
I remember listening to a Buddhist monk on Youtube, Ajahn Brahm (he is excellent, I’ll link him here for those who want to listen), and he described the best way to deal with conflict. He said to be trashcan with a hole in the bottom. In essence, let people put the trash in but let it fall right out. Don’t hang on to the garbage. Of course, no one wants to be a pushover. You have to have a backbone. However, whenever I am in conflict with someone I care about, the trashcan metaphor sticks in my head. It is something I use in my marriage and with friends and family.
What does this trashcan thing have to do with closure?
Well, we are all human and have our own limitations on patience. Sometimes I may have a disagreement with someone, and something hurtful is said or done. I have two options: address it and discuss it in-depth, or be the trash can. If it is something that can be written off as someone in a “bad mood” or said in a moment of stress, just let it go. Don’t let that trash stay in you and get stinky. Of course, if it is life-altering, world-shattering, and deeply hurtful, then addressing it in a calm and collected manner is a great approach. However, I feel sometimes we have this inner need to resolve the conflict, no matter how small, which can cause more conflict in the long run. No one wants to feel as though they are always judged or nit-picked.
Pick your battles, look at your spouse, friend, or family member as a multidimensional human who will likely never say the perfect thing. Don’t hold others to a higher standard than you would expect for yourself. This is one straightforward thing you can do to live more peacefully.
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