I am who I think I am. I think you think you know who I am. I think I am not who I think you think I am. . . . I think. [tweet this].

Do you think Temple Grandin’s* mom is right when she says “I am who I think I am, but I am also who you think I am.” ?

It might be more correct (and more confusing) to say,

“I am who I think I am, but from your perspective, you believe I am who you think I am — and you might be wrong.”

Because, who you think I am, and who I think I am might be two different people.  Who is right — you or I?

One day a friend shared with me that she didn’t know how her sister could be so wrong about their mother.  Her sister described their mother as cold and distant, and never there for her as a child.  My friend knew her mother as kind, caring, devoted and doting.  From her perspective, her sister was lying about their mother.

From my perspective, both sisters were right.  To the one daughter, the mother was everything a mother should be.  To the other. . . not so much.

Mother is not just a person; mother is a relationship. And each sister gets to define for herself the way she perceives her own mother, based on the relationship they share — and the description will be different.  They will both describe her physical attributes, her talents, her mannerisms about the same, but when they talk about who she is as a mother, they will describe how they relate to her on an emotional level, and that relationship is completely different for both women.

How can the same mother, who has the same title to two sisters in the same family, be two such different people? Obviously, she is one person.  How can she be described as seemingly two different people?

The answer is summed up in a tricky little word: perception.

Perception is how we relate to, or see, someone or something.  And since the mother acted differently with her daughters, she was perceived differently by them.

This week we are going to talk a little about perception in marriage. Our husband relates to us depending on how he perceives us. We can change the way our husband perceives us — and thus how he relates to us! I hope that you will step back with me and look into the mirror of truth and reality, as we see our reflection, our image, see ourselves from a different angle and perspective.

Perhaps we can be willing to consider what perceptions (or misperceptions) our husband might have about us, about we treat him, about how we talk to him, about how we feel about him. . . and about how all of this colors his perception of us, and of who he thinks we are, and who we think he thinks we are. . . confused yet?

Today’s marriage tip: Consider that your husband is real, has feelings, has thoughts, has opinions that might differ from yours. . . and that doesn’t make him wrong. . . it just makes him different.  In order to live peaceably and happily with our husband, we must begin to see ourselves as he sees us, and be willing to change the way we relate to him, so that he sees us truthfully, for who we really are.

These concepts might be confusing or surprising to you, but if you are brave enough to explore this topic this week, we might come to some new understanding about our husbands — and our relationship.  If there seems to be a disconnect between how you see yourself, and how your husband views you, please join us this week.

Join us for some journal jotting:

  1. Write down a list of at least five words that describe how you see yourself as a wife.
  2. Now write down a list of at least five words to describe how you think your husband sees you as a wife.
  3. And if you’re really brave, ask your husband to write down five words that describe the way he sees you as a wife, ask him to put it in a sealed envelope, and promise him that you won’t read it until this weekend!

*Temple Grandin is a remarkable woman who overcame the disabling effects of autism to learn to navigate the world successfully, and now teaches us how the autistic person thinks about and perceives the world. Her mother worked tirelessly to bring her daughter into relationships with other people by teaching her to relate and communicate with people who thought so very differently than her daughter did.