The Dirty Socks that Almost Killed My Marriage

By Sam Crowe

Antony and I sat down to dinner a few weeks ago with some friends, a married couple, from interstate that we hadn’t seen face to face for over 2 years. We realised that we hadn’t shared a big part of our lives with them – the near implosion and then miraculous transformation of our marriage.


In a frank, open, loving conversation we shared the details of our marriage breakdown, they asked questions, and we all discussed together. Within that I was able to articulate how I had felt in our marriage three years ago. In a nutshell I would say that although Antony said he loved me, and I believed that he thought he loved me… I didn’t feel loved. Then came the critical question of the night, “What was the catalyst, or the big thing that you could put it all down to?”

“He left his dirty socks inside out in the dirty clothes basket.”




More silence with quizzical looks. Followed by a round of silence.


He didn’t turn his dirty socks the right way round? That’s right, there was no adultery, there was no abuse, he frequently tried to use my love language to fill my “love tank”, he was a ‘hands-on’ Dad, he did a lot of work around the house and he was the most prolific vacuumer you could ever meet. How is it possible that despite all this, I could say I didn’t feel loved because he left his socks inside out?


Allow me to give some background. I spent three years working with teenage girls as a housemistress at a boarding school. One thing I learnt very clearly was that when you had a request or a command you had better make sure you also had a reasonable and well thought out response to the inevitable question, “Why?” And a little more relevant background – my husband is a fire fighter and he does a lot of physical training at work and at home. Ergo, his socks are always sweaty, sometimes smelly and particularly disgusting if they have been sitting at the bottom of the dirty clothes basket for a couple of days.


Not too many years into our marriage I made the request that he turn his socks the right way round before putting them in the dirty clothes basket. I followed this request with the very reasonable and well thought out basis for my request, “It’s really gross to put my hand into your inside-out socks because they are all sweaty, and I need to turn the socks the right way round because you wear them outside without shoes and they don’t come out of the wash as clean if I wash them inside out,” (or words to that effect).


Six years on I was making the same request with the same reasoning verbalised. I was also receiving the same response – inside-out socks followed by a variety of excuses. From our courting days I told Antony that I didn’t want to be a nagging wife and he fully supported me in this decision!! I was now in a bind. I didn’t want to nag, but I wanted the behaviour to change.


I can almost hear some men saying as they read this article, “What’s the big deal, turn the socks the right way round and wash your hands afterwards.” Or perhaps, “You are supposed to serve like Jesus, stop complaining and get over it. It could be much worse and you are just getting worked up over socks.”


Now I’m going to speak very frankly. Men, when your wife asks something of you repeatedly and you do not fulfil her request what you are saying to her is, “What is important to you is not important to me.” And whether you like it or not, whether you agree with me or not, what she hears from you is, “You are not important to me.” It’s that simple. It is that black and white. This is the whole point of this article. If your wife is a nag, please re-read this paragraph.


Of course you will tell her that you love her and you will point out all the other stuff you do that is important to you but less important to her, to prove to her that you love her.


In the end, the issue wasn’t about the actual socks at all. It was about what they represented. I made a reasonable request to my husband and he ignored it on a daily basis for six years. I didn’t feel loved.


Men, are you being nagged by your wives over insignificant things like socks? Does your wife complain about the way you do (or don’t do) something? Does she nag you because you “don’t listen” or “have communication issues”? This issue is not the communication, it’s what you are doing with the information. You now have a choice to make: to serve your wife or to continue to serve yourself and pretend it’s her problem (check out Ephesians 5:25-27 for some biblical input on this).


I’m very pleased to inform you that my story has a happy ending. I am blessed that Antony has a teachable heart and that eventually (with the assistance of others) he realised that all the vacuuming in the world doesn’t assure me of his love if spotless floors are not important to me. He now turns his socks the right way round (most of the time) and is greatly enjoying the benefits of a happy, beloved wife.


One Response to “The Dirty Socks that Almost Killed My Marriage”

  1. Sam Crowe says:

    Hi People, I’ve had feedback from a friend saying that this article has generated a bit of positive discussion within some marriages. That’s really exciting!!!! That’s the whole point of airing our ‘dirty laundry’ (or dirty socks!). If you find the article helpful, or would like to share some of your journey I’d love you to hear what you have to say. Just leave some comments below – it would encourage me and encourage others in their marriage journeys. I know the Men of Courage guys would love to see some healthy discussion on some of the articles they post and to hear some of your stories of how you (or your men) are working on being ‘men of courage’.

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