I've read in a few places that 2/3 of the disagreements within happily married couples are disagreements with no resolution...disagreements that are based not on changeable behaviors, but rather on fundamental aspects of personality.
I'll use as examples the fact that Chris is more likely to make up a funny parody of a song rather than a romantic ballad, or the fact that I can't find my way across a crowded room without turn-by-turn directions and a hand-drawn map on a napkin. I'm sure that Chris would love it if roads and directions were as simple, clear, and intoxicating to me as they are to him, while there are certain pieces of my heart that--while recognizing Chris's fantastic qualities as a husband--yearn for more poetry and flowers.
These are things that neither one of us can help. There's not a class in the world that is going to make maps and roads suddenly make sense to me. Likewise, Chris just isn't going to become "romantic." The things that give him all the wonderful qualities that I prize are the same things that mean he's not going to bust out the ballads and roses. Some things just are the way they are.
This is true in more places than just in marriage, of course. I'm not a person who's comfortable making phone calls. I try to make them (and need to try harder) to stay in touch with friends, but I'm more comfortable behind the written word or in face-to-face conversation. Others are far less interested in writing; for them, the phone is the go-to form of communication. Can this friendship be saved? Absolutely...IF the two of us can find a way to make allowances for each other.
It is the grace of these "little lapses" that allows us to build relationships at all. Etiquette is a lovely thing, a social buffer that allows us to live together without bumping too many hard edges against one another; but even etiquette falls down and requires us to develop some grace towards each other. Lapses aren't necessarily bad things, or offenses; they're the ways in which we aren't perfectly like one another, the things that drive us crazy for no specific reason other than that they aren't us.
When it comes to "little lapses," I have a choice: I can decide that they're beyond all reason and more than I should bear...or I can choose to extend the grace of knowing that this is just how things are, just a part of the package of the person that I love. Both love and sanity call for the latter--and are, in fact, what I desire of others. I want that cushioning effect when others realize that I forgot their birthday (again) or that I am rarely the caller but often the callee--or that I am too light or too intense or too serious. Love demands that I try to call more often, try to remember birthdays, try to meet my loved ones where they are...but love also demands that they cut me some slack when inevitably I fall short. Love recognizes the "little lapses," smiles, and says, "That's okay."