Focusing on what “really is” isn’t always easy. That’s because sometimes our view gets obstructed. Or it could be that what we think we see, we actually don’t!
That became clearer for us after having gone through eye exams recently. When asked, “Which is clearer —this or that?” you’d think it would be an easy question to answer as you’re focusing on different screens that are being flipped in front of you. It should be one or the other. But sometimes, it all goes by so fast your eyes play tricks on you. And other times the subtle differences just don’t stand out to you. But you know your answer makes a difference concerning your future glasses; so, the pressure is on!
Sometimes it’s the same way with our perception of what our spouse does or doesn’t do. Our mind can play tricks on us. We may see more into the situation than there actually is. Or maybe we don’t see all there is to the situation. But we make snap judgements, none-the-less.
It’s troubling when our perceptions become mixed up. We are either focusing on that, which isn’t as important in the long-run or we’re projecting what we THINK we see, rather than what’s really true. When that’s true, even innocent gestures can become suspect, if our mindset on the matter is askew. That’s why we need to be aware of this and be careful.
Focusing on What’s Real
I (Cindy) confess that I have struggled with this issue through the years. Sadly, I used to think that I knew how things “really were” and Steve was clueless. But God has been patiently teaching me some important truths. I’m learning to quit making those types of judgement calls. I’m not “all-knowing.”
On this matter relationship expert, Mort Fertel wrote:
“You may think your spouse doesn’t get it. But your spouse thinks you don’t get it. Who’s right? You’re both right! We can all stand to see ourselves, and our marriage more clearly, and improve our situations. We tend to get stuck in our ways and in the way we see things. It’s probably just a slight change in perspective you need, but it can make an enormous difference in your circumstances.” (From Mort’s message, “Do You See That?”)
And that’s true! I’m learning that Steve’s perspective is just as important as mine. And upon closer examination I’ve found that many times I’m the clueless one—not him. I need his perspective to get closer to the reality of it all; and he needs mine. Together, we can be focusing on what really is, rather than our one-sided perspectives.
But, as far as focusing:
“Sometimes, we need reminders and prompts to help keep us on track. If you’re finding it difficult to see a situation from your spouse’s point of view, ask them to help you see this from their side. Then, listen. Ask questions. Reflect back to them what you’re understanding. Let them explain what they’re experiencing, and work to understand their side of the issue. If you intentionally cultivate empathy for one another through trading places, you will see major changes for the better—and you’ll see them quickly.” (Drs Les & Leslie Parrott, from their article, “Why You Should Walk in Your Spouse’s Shoes“)
So, let this be a friendly reminder. We all need them. Try to look at each marital situation from both of your vantage points. Make sure you listen to and ask each other questions. But beware of approaching these “questioning times” as a prosecuting attorney or a judge. It’s easy to fall into that negative rut. Instead, give each other grace, just as God gives us grace.
Also, in every situation with your spouse:
“Assume the best. Practice giving each other the benefit of the doubt, since assuming the worst doesn’t help anyone. If your spouse offers to clean the kitchen, don’t assume it’s criticism. Instead, view it as an action designed to show love. Assume that criticism is meant to help rather than to put down. Assume that a sharp response reflects your spouse’s momentary state of irritability rather than a rejection of you as a person.” (Robert & Jeanette Lauer)
And that’s hard to do! We don’t know about you, but our minds can often gravitate towards making negative assumptions, rather than grace-giving ones. But keep in mind this important point:
“In Philippians 4:8 we’re told that when we think about our spouses, we should focus on: – whatever is true – whatever is noble – whatever is right – whatever is pure – whatever is lovely – whatever is admirable – whatever is excellent or praiseworthy. This calls you to take charge of your mind. You are to discipline it to dwell on the things about your spouse that are worthy of celebration. If when you think about your spouse you dwell on whatever is not honorable, whatever is distasteful, frustrating, shameful, and deserving of censure, don’t be surprised if you heart follows.” (Gary Thomas)
Again, that is so true. Work to keep your focus on God’s perspective in every matter that rises up in your relationship.
Focusing on the Truth
In Philippians 4:9 it is written:
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me —put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.“
And that’s our challenge for you today. Ask God to help you to focus on the real truth of the marital situations you’re facing. And then look for ways in which you can apply grace, as Christ does. Put HIS ways into practice. By doing so, “The God of peace will be with you.”
May it be so, Lord Jesus; may it be so!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
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