Don’t Let Socks Destroy Your Relationship

I once worked with a lovely woman who told me a funny story about her previous marriage. Funny-peculiar, not funny-haha. Well, not really funny-peculiar either. But it made a lasting impression on me, and there’s a moral to the story.

Allow me to share it with you. I’m going to tell it in the first person so it sounds more, you know, authentic.

I was married to a man for seven years, and our relationship was generally good — except for one thing.

After he came home from work, he would remove his dirty socks and leave them on the floor. All the time. A hamper was available mere steps away, but he refused to put his socks into it. This drove me absolutely bonkers.

I asked him nicely on many occasions to place his socks in the proper receptacle. He didn’t. I cried and pleaded with him: please, please, put your socks in the hamper! He still didn’t. Oh, maybe for a day or two he’d comply, but then he’d go right back to his old ways. We fought about it tirelessly but nothing changed.

It incensed me to no end. I felt that he was disrespecting me. I know it seems small, but he knew how important it was to me and still wouldn’t make the effort to do this one thing to make me happy. All I asked was to put his freaking socks in the hamper. It takes two seconds, for Pete’s sake!

Why was this so difficult? One tiny tweak to his behavior could have staved off many an argument and kept the peace in our relationship. Obviously, he was completely inconsiderate of my feelings.

Ultimately, it ruined our marriage and we divorced.

A couple years later, I found love again. He was an incredible man – successful, thoughtful, affectionate — and he never left his socks on the floor. We had a beautiful wedding, and I felt very lucky and grateful that the Universe brought us together.

Until one day when I came home and he was fucking his secretary.

It suddenly dawned on me that maybe the socks weren’t such a big deal after all.

Whoever coined the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” was a smart cookie. I understand marriage is tough and after living with someone day in and day out, some of the annoying habits are inevitably going to get on your nerves and make you want to kick and scream and shove their dirty socks in their mouth then twist their head off and throw it out the window.

But I, for one, think that is a little extreme.

My friend ultimately realized she would have saved herself a tremendous amount of time and emotional energy by simply picking up the socks herself and then forgetting about it. Don’t let the small stuff drag you down. Take a step back and focus on what’s important.

And by the way, this goes for both men and women, mmkay?

Believe me, I get it, the little crap can be annoying — but only as much as you allow it to be. Because at the end of the day, they’re just socks.

30 replies

  1. I think her issue with the sock had to be one of many other reasons they fought. It was mighty inconsiderate of him not to pick up some silly socks. Plus, we’re only hearing one side of the story. How many intimate garments did she leave hanging in the bathroom?

    Ultimately, I do believe we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. I’m currently trying to figure out if what I was recently sweating, is “small stuff” OR just big enough not to ignore. Still not sure.

    • It’s not always easy, is it? Sometimes you think the small stuff is symbolic of a larger issue. I guess you have to step back and “see the forest for the trees” and all that jazz. Is he a good man? Does he love me? Does he respect me? Is he trustworthy? etc. If so, maybe socks aren’t such a big deal.

  2. ah yes. the everlasting debate.
    “if he doesn’t want me to nag then why doesn’t he do it the first time” that’s another one. well, i’ve learned that i might as well just do it instead because either he won’t do it right, won’t do it soon enough, or whatever. so, i just do it.

    unless it’s something major that I can’t do. I mean, really, it’s like, picking up something off the floor.

    but, alas, these are what the biggest fights are about ironically.

    • Totally. Everyone’s going to have some little shit that bothers you. You’re in big trouble if you let this little shit take over your relationship. Save your energy for the big shit. That sounds kind of disgusting.

  3. Oh God. Seriously? Over socks?
    Well the Universe pretty much sent her a kick in the ass. Why stress out when there could be worse things that could happen? Believe me. I know.

  4. Honestly, I would just start throwing the socks in the trash bin instead of the hamper. I think that one day at the office with a naked foot/loafer combo would solve the problem going forward.

    Jokes aside, good lesson. I’ll remember this when my date is perenially 15 minutes late or is too grumpy in the morning to look in my direction.

  5. um, yes. I am learning this every day! I am actually reading the ‘happiness project’ and the author was just talking about something similar in that being annoyed at something like that, rather than just putting them away yourself causes unecessary frustration and resentment. For socks? Really. Great post!

    • “Happiness Project,” eh? I should check that out. Yes, being in a relationship really pushes this concept in your face, doesn’t it? Sometimes pride stops us from putting the socks away (or whatever), because of “the principle.” But maybe we should save our principles for the bigger, more important matters, right? I’m a big fan of “pick your battles.” Who wants to be at war constantly?

    • This is why I’m single. I don’t think I can handle someone else’s socks on my floor. And I’m perfectly ok with that.


      (But the point is still a good one!)

  6. In relationships, you often think it’s about things like the socks, but often it’s about bigger issues….like leaving the toilet seat up. :))

      • That makes sense! Why do girls insist that seat down is the ‘default’ – it’s just as much effort to lift up as it is to lift down. I think a good system would be for everyone to move the seat to the opposite of what they have just used. 🙂

      • Well, here’s my reasoning for “seat down”: a) in the middle of the night if the seat is up and we sit on it, we’ll fall in, b) it looks nasty because men often pee on the rim (and is just generally less attractive, IMO), c) I personally like to close the lid, because when you flush germs supposedly come flying out of the bowl and get all over my toothbrush, which is perched close by. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 🙂

  7. I’m a married lady, and my husband leaves his dirty socks on the floor! I put the hamper in the area of the room he starts doing it to try and make it easy for him, but mostly I jus tpick them up myself. I can understand the lady in the storys problem–it’s the little things that can build up in a marriage–when you’re living with someone every day the ltitle things can ruin a marriage, if you let it. It’s all about making sure you work on your relationship and learn to laugh about these things and let them go, so that they don’t just drive you tot he edge, haha

    • I totally get it – I was married once and man these things can build up. It is definitely not easy. Sadly it is easy to lose sight of the good things about your relationship – loyalty, trust, love, if someone “has your back” in regard to the BIG things.

  8. Hey single girlie….. i just wanted to let you know that i looove your articles ……. almost everyday i check in to see if you have posted a new one ,,,,,, thanks for the entertainment and your unique point of views -that has gotten me thinking about stuff on more than one occasion ……

  9. Dirty socks, leaving the TV on through the dead of night, forgetting to rinse your dish before putting them in the wash every fucking time…. As insignificant as these objects of actions seem, they can definitely spark a timebomb of paranoia and self-doubt like what happened with your friend. It’s like, yes, they’re just dirty socks, but is there a chance that they have deeper meaning and symbolize more than just dirty socks? Possibly, yes.

    But you’re right. Is it worth throwing an entire person, your entire connection and life away because of a mere possibility? ….Probably not, no. Though, easier said than done! I wish we were all so strong and unwavering with our self-worth. 🙂

    • You’re so right, it is easier said than done. Isn’t everything?

      Everyone is going to have some annoying habit that drives you crazy, no matter who they are. I have a habit of leaving the closet door open. I went out with a guy who hated this. And I tried to remember to close the closet door as much as possible, but sometimes I’d forget. And every time I’d forget he’d point it out. He let it really upset him and his niggling upset me.

      Sometimes we just have to evaluate: how important is this? Is it really worth fighting over? Is it worth our time and energy? Because we always have a choice.

  10. I highly doubt that was the ONLY thing he did to annoy her. She probably complained about many of his habits, but the socks were the most prominent. You think if someone let’s a pair of socks bother them that much that they wouldn’t be annoyed by a plethora of other small things? Probably why her new husband cheated on her. Just my opinion.

    • I doubt it was the only thing either, but it was the one she mentioned. And of course, the point remains: don’t let the small stuff take over, whether it’s socks, hair in the drain or “man hands” (Seinfeld reference).

  11. It’s so true SG, the little things that make or break a relationship are often trivial.
    But it’s the way humans are built I guess, funny story. Thanks for sharing!

    • I know, humans are complicated creatures, aren’t we? Cats wouldn’t care about socks on the floor or leaving cabinet doors open. As long as we don’t rearrange the furniture 😉

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