A few weeks ago, I mentioned a term that I’d like to highlight a bit further (because it keeps coming up in conversations). It’s the term of looking at your spouse through “manure-colored glasses.” What that means is that when you are viewing your spouse with a negative outlook, it doesn’t matter what they do, it’s all dung (a polite term, to say the least)!
If one spouse says the sky is blue, the other finds fault with it. If they say the sky is grey, that isn’t right either, in the opposing spouse’s view. No matter what the one spouse says or does, they’re wrong. Benign comments are turn around and treated as if they’re malignant ones. Even innocent words, gestures and actions are viewed as suspect and turned all around, as if it’s all dung. I’ve seen this happen in my own family and other relationships —truly a sad thing.
But honestly, I can’t throw stones because I confess that I’ve picked up those types of “glasses” more than once myself in my own marriage.
I’ve gone through times when I’m “having a bad day” and I take it out on Steve where everything he does appears to be “wrong.” Every little thing seems to be magnified in my mind and I can’t see any good. When I wrongly pick up those manure-colored glasses and wear them, it all looks bad. In reality, this is more about me, and my sinful ways, than it is about what Steve says or does, doesn’t say, or doesn’t do.
It’s like what Drs Les and Leslie Parrott write:
“All of us see whatever it is we prepare our minds to see. Our perception, in how we view a situation, is the result of our attitude. Once we have a particular mind-set, we see everything and everybody in a certain way —either more positively or negatively —even if our perception isn’t accurate. That’s why in marriage and in life, we so often find what we’re looking for. If you think your spouse is lazy, you can find plenty of evidence to support your case. If you think your spouse is efficient, you can find experiences to back that up too. Whatever you have it in your mind to find, you will.” (From the book, I Love You More)
This is so, so true! When I allow my mind to go into a negative spin, God reminds me that I’m not perfect either. Steve needs grace… I need grace —we all need grace.
Who’s Perfect Anyway?
My husband isn’t perfect and neither am I. I shouldn’t expect more from him than I want for myself. I want him to overlook my “mistakes” (many being sins), idiosyncrasies, and “clueless” times when I don’t meet his needs. And yet I’m not as quick to do the overlooking when it comes to some of HIS “mistakes” and clueless times. Something is wrong with the whole picture, if I really look at it with two-way lenses —out and within.
I’ve heard many, many spouses start their sentences with, “I know I’m not perfect and I don’t do everything I should, BUT…” And then they rattle off things their spouse does that isn’t perfect either, but they’re somehow “inexcusable.”
We Can’t Overlook it All, But…
Yes, there are some things that can’t be overlooked. If there are moral failings, integrity issues, or abusive ways involved, obviously, they have to be dealt with and worked through. But with other matters, such as irritations… come on… we need to let up a bit on each other. If we look at them truthfully, these aren’t sinister plots aimed against us to ruin our lives. They’re just irritations that need to be worked through.
You’re always going to have something going on that irritates you in the close setting of a marital relationship. However, these irritations don’t have to ruin a marriage, unless we keep looking at them to such an extent that eventually they poison even the good. At that point they DO ruin it. Below is a case in point to be considered, brought out by Gary Chapman, from the book, “Covenant Marriage.”
“If we have not resolved our differences, we can feel somewhat estranged from each other and are therefore more vulnerable to being defensive. Some couples who fail to resolve conflicts over a period of years draw the conclusion that they are not compatible and, in fact, are enemies. Their rationale becomes ‘an enemy is out to get me; therefore, I must always be on my guard.’ They basically begin looking for something to which they can respond defensively. Subconsciously, they are expecting attacks from time to time, and they live in a state of readiness to defend themselves.”
We need to implement more belief in the good will of the other and grace living. In doing so, we can more readily embrace marital optimism, which is important to the life of the marriage.
We Need to Embrace Faith
In the insightful Crosswalk.com article written by Rebecca Hagelin, Stoke the Fires of Marital Optimism, she wrote something that’s important to note:
“For marriage to work, good communication habits aren’t enough. Faith in the ‘big picture’ of your relationship is important too. Losing hope that marriage can work —and that your spouse means well —can feed a downward spiral.”
Get off that crazy cycle where you’re going down a downward spiral of critical thinking (and I’m not talking about the wise kind of thinking in critical ways) —where your spouse is viewed in continuing negative ways.
“There is no greater lie than a truth misunderstood.” (William James)
Here are a few things we have posted on this web site, which expand upon this issue that we recommend you read:
— PLUS —
A Scriptural Tool to Use
A tool God has shown me to continually use concerning my thoughts is the principle outlined within Philippians 4:8-9. I NEED (we all need) the reminder sometimes to think about things that are “honorable… just… pure… lovely… commendable”, etc. When we do that, our focus is pointed in a direction that makes things look a whole lot more positive.
Let this be your friendly reminder to put down those you who are looking at your spouse through those manure-colored glasses. Hopefully, you know who you are. In your (non-abusive) marriage, if ALL you see is negative continually, then you’re wearing them. I can assure you if this is the case, it’s negatively affecting your marriage. Put them down, walk away, and go to God to help you to see your spouse as HE does.
The Bible says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).
Prayerfully seek God’s wisdom to know when it’s best to overlook and when it isn’t. God will give you new eyes and a new attitude, and perhaps, a renewed marriage relationship.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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