Focusing on What Really Is

Focusing - AdobeStock_211419173Focusing 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


To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:

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2 responses to “Focusing on What Really Is

  1. (USA) My biggest challenge is that I am a positive person who always looks for the good side of everything or at least I make a concentrated effort to do so. My husband seems not to do that. I don’t want to call him negative because sometimes he analyzes things in such a way that seems negative but in reality it’s just an honest view that I don’t want to admit to.

    When he speaks about his day though, he speaks of all of the negative things that happen or that were said & it kinda puts a damper on my evening. He’s quick to point out the things that are wrong quickly but is slow to praise & is of the mind that praise is something that shouldn’t be over used or no one will work harder. I see his point of view but it’s a difficult personality to stay positive with. What are some ideas you may have to help me help him see things in a more positive light?

    1. Kimberly, Some people are wired that way and they don’t realize how it can come across to others. To them, it makes sense and is natural. My youngest son is that way (he’s 37). For years he had a real hard time with those who are naturally bubbly or overly optimistic. He was turned off by it and thought it was fake (which usually it wasn’t). But eventually he grew up and now has a wife who has a tendency to be a more positive person (good thing — two Eeyore’s in the same household could be a bit much). For them, he has had to stretch a bit to be more positive and try not to get so serious all the time and for her, she has had to tamp down the bubbliness sometimes –realizing it can get on his nerves (as he can get on hers). They have a great marriage though, so they’ve been able to make it work. But it is grow up time.

      The problem comes in when one spouse doesn’t want to work on their end of these types of matters. They will say, “Well, that’s just the way I am and so she (or he) needs to accept me this way.” Honestly, that’s a cop-out, if that’s their attitude. They’re involved in being more self-obsorbed on this rather than finding ways to marry both approaches. I guess what you can do about it is pray. And ask God to show you how to best approach your husband on this subject. Then, when you feel you have committed it to the amount of prayer that you should, find the right time and place to talk to him, asking him what signal you can give him or what way can you approach him when you need a bit more of a positive approach given for that particular time.

      That’s what my husband Steve and I have done over the years. He can be the bouncy one –sometimes a little too energetic when I need things a bit more quiet (if hormonal things are going on, or so). But we’ve worked out signals. And if I’m too serious (although I DO love a good laugh and am also an encourager), Steve has found great ways to gently help me to step out of my seriousness.

      Kimberly, what it comes down to is this isn’t something where I can give you a magic formula and you apply it and everything is just fine and dandy afterward. It’s trial and error, finding what works (because we’re all different), and BOTH of you working to give each other the grace that is needed to make this work, leaning toward growing and building communication bridges. My husband and I work to be a soft place to fall for the other –to support each other and to love on each other and to find ways to minister to each other — to laugh together and cry together and grieve together (even if we have differing ways of doing that). Sometimes I need more grace and sometimes my husband needs more –we have our seasons. But above all, we’ve pledged to find ways to bridge our differences and continue to grow our relationship so neither of us will be tempted to find comfort elsewhere. We are partners for life and since neither of us wants to be miserable for the rest of our lives, we WILL find ways to work through our differences and love on each other. I hope that for you. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)