“Truth is about perception and what we believe shapes what we perceive.” Alan B Jones
Imagine for a second you’re sitting in your living room and just on the other side of a sliding glass door is the ocean. You can see the different shades of blue in the water, you can see the movement of the ocean and the white peaks that form at the tops of the rolling waves. It’s beautiful and calming…and powerful. You could sit there all day admiring the view.
Now imagine that we replace that sliding glass door with a few panes of stained glass. Now when you look out through the glass, you can see something that vaguely looks like the ocean, but it’s blurred and distorted. You can see a large body of water, but you can’t decipher the blues of the water, the movement of the water, or the details of the white peaks on the waves.
Putting a barrier between you and the ocean doesn’t change the fact that the ocean is still there in all its beauty…you just can’t see it clearly. And over time, you forget the details and the reality of how beautiful it really is.
That same distortion happens in our relationships. We enter into a marriage full of love, excitement and hopefulness. But over time, we place barriers in front of that relationship.
Those barriers are our fears….
Our expectations of the other person…
The need to control our partners is a barrier.
The judgments we carry towards ourselves and others…
And the view of how we think the marriage should be creates a barrier that distorts the view of the relationship.
We think what we’re seeing and experiencing behind that distorted view is all there is. And so we mistakenly believe that when our marriage is struggling, the only answer is to leave.
The alternative I would offer is to remove the barriers that are causing the distortion so that you can see the relationship more clearly.
And even if you do that and ultimately decide to lovingly release the marriage, at least you’re telling yourself the truth and doing it consciously.
How Did We Go from Hope to Hate?
My brother-in-law stayed with us over the weekend and we were watching a wedding on TV. I had no idea he loved weddings so much. He’s been married twice himself and it sounds like he’s contemplating trying again. Here’s what he asked, “How is it that we can go from so much love and hopefulness on the day of our weddings to hating the sight of one another years later?”
My answer: Over time, we put barriers up that – just like stained glass – distorts our perspective so that we can no longer see the relationship or our partners clearly. We unconsciously keep those many inserts of stained glass in front of our view and tell ourselves that’s what the ocean looks like, because that’s all we can see. But when we remove the distractions and distortions, we can see more clearly and maybe (just maybe…) even appreciate what we see.