We all remember the debate about the color of the dress. Now there is a new debate: what color are the shoes? My husband and I already disagreed on the dress color (I see white and gold, and he sees blue and black). But these shoes were going to be different. These shoes were clearly without a doubt grey and teal. I did not see any other color.
Without saying any context, I asked my husband what color were the shoes. Without skipping a beat, he replied: “Pink and white.” I was fuming. How could he not see the picture my way? What was so obviously grey and teal to me was so obviously pink and white to him, and we just couldn’t see eye to eye, literally, on the issue.
But that’s not the only thing we don’t see eye to eye on.
My husband and I grew up in two different families, with two different worldviews. Even though he lived a few towns away from me for his whole life, and we definitely ran into each other at the local KMart a few times as children, sometimes it’s like we were born worlds apart from each other.
Who knew my Intercultural Studies degree would come in handy in my own marriage?
Whether your issues are as simple as deciding on a color for your bedroom or as complex as where you’re going to spend Thanksgiving, here are some ways that we’ve learned to collaborate even though we see things differently:
Learn to clearly communicate: I may be saying ABC, but my husband is hearing 123. We think that we’re speaking the same language, but when we say one thing to each other, we interpret it as something completely different. Do not take for granted that you and your husband speak the same language. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you are both speaking the same language. If your husband is saying something important, repeat what he says so that you can reiterate that you understood him correctly. If something is confusing, ask him to elaborate. This may sound annoying and time-consuming, but nothing is more important than making sure you are on the same page as your spouse.
Do not assume: I tend to think of myself as a mind reader, but I’ve realized that instead of mind reading, I’m actually assigning feelings/thoughts to people that aren’t really there. For example, I’ll tell my husband something that I believe is great news, and he’ll reply with silence. I’ll wait a few minutes for him to say something, but he doesn’t. So, I say out loud, “I guess it’s not great news to you. I guess you can’t relate but you don’t want to hurt my feelings, so you’re not saying anything.” I come up with all these motivations that my husband could have had for being quiet, but none of them were true. He was just in the middle of making dinner, and he was focused on making sure the food came out just right. Do not assign feelings to your spouse. If you need to, ask why he/she responded that way.
Take a step back: Sometimes works of art require you to examine it from a distance to truly capture its beauty. It is the same thing with conversation. Take a step back from the conversation to truly process what is going on. If you can’t give your spouse 100% of your attention, be honest. “Hey, honey, can we continue this conversation later? I really value what you’re saying, but I can’t concentrate on what you’re saying right now. Let’s talk about it after dinner tonight.” Make definite plans to talk about the important piece of information. If it’s a fight, and you both need clarity, stop what you’re both doing and pray. God can help you see what you both need to know.
The truth is, the shoe in this picture is pink and white, regardless of how you personally see it. The lighting was altered so that some people see pink and white, while some (like me) see grey and teal. You can see the real shoe if you do a quick Google search. When you don’t see eye to eye, sometimes all you need to do is change the lighting so you both see the same color. When you agree to work toward seeing eye to eye, that’s when your marriage will flourish.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” -John 8:12
*I honestly don’t know where the picture originated, but this picture was taken from Google.