A really cool thing happened when The Atlantic decided to publish an excerpt from my new book This is How Your Marriage Ends.
It introduced my work to a bunch of new people, boosted book sales (which I’m guilty of really wanting to happen), and it added me having a byline in The Atlantic to my career accomplishments which I feel super-fortunate to have had happen.
But there’s always a consequence to a bunch of new people being introduced to the work I do, exacerbated even more by The Atlantic editorial staff’s decision to make the excerpt about the whole She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink thing.
Some people flip shit about that for reasons I’m not entirely sure about. A bunch of internet tough guys like to call me a “soy boy,” or a “mangina,” or any number of other things, to which I would kindly tell them to go fuck themselves if I didn’t know that they have no idea what they’re even criticizing. I believe they think I’m advocating for being a subservient romantic partner instead of advocating for healthy relationships. But it’s the same dumb shit I would have thought 10-15 years ago too, so I’m going to try to withhold too much judgment about it.
Yet, one reoccurring theme from the peanut gallery comes through loud and clear. And that theme from some people critical of this dish-by-the-sink thing is the paraphrased retort: “Hey Matt! You big, stupid pussy! Have you tried not sweating the small stuff?!?!?1111!!!
Again. It’s fine. They don’t get it. And they shouldn’t have to. I just wish they had the discipline to not be so Dunning-Kruger-y about it in internet comments. The Dunning-Kruger effect refers to a cognitive bias in which incompetent people lack the skills and cognitive abilities to recognize their lack of knowledge. Poor self-awareness and ignorance results in them overestimating their own capabilities. While I surely must do this sometimes still today, it more or less defined my 20s and early 30s, believing myself to be a good husband, but ultimately not even realizing the gargantuan list of things I didn’t know.
In the video above, I make the case for “sweating the small stuff.” Because what you consider a small thing, and what someone else considers a small thing will not always align. You’ll define “the small stuff” differently. And that’s fine. You don’t have to agree with everyone. But when that someone else is a relationship partner or another important interpersonal relationship, our occasional disagreement with them about what is or is not important can lead to all sorts of conflict and trust erosion via invalidation if we’re not vigilant about NOT doing that.
Please sweat the small stuff in your relationships. The big things are easy enough to notice. To account for. The things that sneakily erode trust and destroy us while we’re busy not noticing are precisely these so-called “small things.” And we can do better. We must do better.