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Tuesday
May162017

It’s All About Your Perspective

By:  Donna Martin

Mike and I go jogging/walking in the preserve next to our apartment almost every other day.  He jogs; I walk/jog (mostly walk).  When we begin our jog he goes in one direction and I go in the other.  We pass each other about halfway and then meet again at our designated “finish line”.  A couple of weeks ago I was feeling really energetic so when we met in the middle I decided to jog with Mike.  This meant that I turned around and went in the opposite direction jogging uphill on the hill that I had just walked down.  I did not think about this uphill jog when I made that energetic decision.  When I caught up to Mike at the end, we decided to go ahead and walk up the detour that I usually take.  I always enjoy this part of my walk as it is less crowded and the trees reach over the path to make an archway above me.  As we walked together I noticed that the trail looked different.  The trail had not changed, but my perspective had.

As often happens on my walks a thought came to my mind about marriage.  It was interesting to me that I had never noticed what a difference a perspective can make.  The trail was still the same.  The only thing that had changed was my direction – my perspective.

I thought about how perspectives can affect a marriage relationship and relationships with children.  Most of the time this occurs when a conflict arises or when a spouse or child does not act the way we think they should act.   For now we will stick to the husband/wife relationship.  I think we can all agree that men and women are different and these differences can affect our perspectives.  Science and research has proven that men and women’s brains are very different.  Women use both sides of their brains and can transfer information between the right and left side of the brain more quickly than men.  Men’s brains tend to perform more on the left-side which is the more logical side.  Therefore, women tend to be more affected by their emotions when problem solving, however, men solve problems more logically.  Not only are perspectives influenced by physical differences, but they are also influenced by our backgrounds and upbringing.  Because husbands and wives often have different perspectives this can cause conflicts both large and small.

For example one day when Mike was trying to make a decision about an important financial matter, he asked my opinion.  We talked about it for a few minutes and then I said, “I’m sure whatever you decide will be fine.”  From my perspective, what I said was meant to make him feel better.  I trusted him and knew that the choices he had made in the past were wise.  I had faith that he would make the right decision on this matter.  I was surprised when he said, “You don’t have to be so flippant about it.”  From his perspective, this was a major decision that we needed to have more of a discussion about it in order to make a proper decision. He needed me to help him with the decision by really thinking about it and understanding all of the ramifications of the decision.  My answer made him think that I did not really care about the decision and did not want to be bothered with it.  We had to talk this out so that we could understand each other’s perspective and resolve a minor conflict.

Our differences in perspective can affect all areas of our life - our sexual relationship, our childrearing, our relationship with our in-laws, our financial situations, even where we will go for dinner.  Whenever, a conflict arises we often forget to think about the other person’s perspective.  We become selfish, we think what we want matters more than what our spouse wants; we think our spouse is trying to do something to make us mad.  All kinds of thoughts pop into our minds.  When this happens we need to stop and count to ten.  Then think about how our perspective in the situation is different from our spouse’s perspective.  We need to ask our self, “Why did he say that?” or “What is she thinking?” or “How would I act in this situation?”  If we don’t know the answers to these questions, we need to ask our spouse, “Why would you say that?” or “Help me understand what you are thinking?” or “How do you think I would act in this situation?”  We could even say, “Help me to see your perspective on this.”  Sometimes, seeing things from our spouse’s perspective can help us resolve and even in some cases avoid conflicts.  It can also help us better understand our spouse.  Talking about our different perspectives may be hard, but it is necessary to help us grow and become better spouses.

Changing my perspective on my walk helped strengthen me because I had to jog uphill.  It also made me aware of the beauty that I had missed when I always went in the same direction.  Trying to understand a spouse’s perspective and discussing those differences in perspectives can actually help you to become stronger as a couple and can help you appreciate and love the differences between you.  Instead of trying to change your spouse try looking at things from your spouse’s perspective.

The Martins currently present “Happy Together” Marriage Enrichment Events for churches and organizations.  To schedule an event call Michael at 940-735-1515. They are certified “Prepare/Enrich” Facilitators and are available to work with couples on an individual basis using the “Prepare/Enrich Assessment.”  They publish a weekly “Happy Together” Blog about family and marriage issues.  You can order copies of their new books Dancing With Death and 366 Tidbits We Have Learned in 14,610 Days of Marriage, read, and subscribe to their “Happy Together” Blog by logging onto the Martin’s website at www.happytogethermarriages.com.

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