If I think spiders are scary, does that make it so?

Can two people with two differing opinions both be right?

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”  Proverbs 18:17

Does perception become reality?

If I perceive you as cold and distant, might I not create an environment that proves that out? Even if you are really a compassionate and caring person?

If Joan thinks spiders are scary, won’t she react to them in such a way that produces fear?  If she perceive spiders as scary. . . then they are. . . to her. . . she is scared.  That becomes a reality to Joan.

It might not be true (for you), but it is certainly real (to Joan).

So, let’s just assume for a moment that Joan’s husband perceives that she doesn’t really love him because . . . let’s pick a common complaint. . . she hasn’t initiated intimacy for awhile.  From his perspective, if Joan loved him she would want to be with him.  Since Joan doesn’t initiate intimacy, she must not want to be with him, and thus she doesn’t love him.  End of story.  Cut and dried.  Black and white.  Case closed.  Hear the gavel pounding?

If he presented his case to Joan, she would just defend her position, and try to convince him with words that she does love him. But that won’t change the way he feels, and it won’t change the way he perceives her level of love toward him — no matter how much she protests that he is wrong.

Since we remember yesterday’s marriage challenge, we know there is another option:

Just consider that how your husband perceives you is correct — from his point of view.  It does no good to argue with him and try to convince him that he is wrong.

Let’s assume that Joan’s husband is speaking from very real feelings.  She likes it when he validates her feelings, so she should validate his.  She should just accept that he really feels that way — to him it is real — even if to her it is not true. (Remember just because Joan is afraid of spiders does not mean that spiders are actually scary, and just because Joan’s husband doesn’t feel love from her doesn’t mean that she doesn’t actually love him.) So, just as it does no good to argue with Joan that spiders aren’t really scary — it does no good for Joan to argue with her husband that she really does love him — even if she doesn’t want to be intimate with him!

Today’s marriage challenge:  Do not argue with your husband’s misperceptions.  It only makes him more determined to prove his case against you.

Don’t argue with your husband about matters of perception!  Accept the fact that he feels a certain way.  He perceives you that way.  To him, it is truth.  To solve this with an argument, you would have to prove him wrong. . . and what does that solve?  You either have to prove that he is a liar or an idiot for feeling that way.

Let’s try to resolve this conflict without creating a loser.  The only way to do that is to let him own his feelings.  Okay.  He feels that way.  His feelings are real.  Don’t argue.  Now, what are you going to do with that?

I’ll tell you tomorrow!

Further thought-provokers:

  1. Do you think there might be areas where your husband perceives you incorrectly?
  2. Do you ever find yourself arguing about feelings with your husband?
  3. Is it even possible to argue and convince someone that they really don’t feel the way they think they feel?!

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