Let's suppose for a moment that I have a bowl of fruit. In that bowl, there are bananas, a couple of oranges, and a couple of apples. I place the bowl of fruit in between a husband and wife so that it is just above eye level for both. After having them look at the bowl of fruit for a few minutes, I then remove the bowl from their view. I had the bowl situated so that the husband was only able to see the bananas and the apples as the apples prevented him from seeing the oranges. On the other hand, the wife was only able to see the bananas and the oranges because the oranges blocked her view of the apples.
After removing the fruit, I ask the couple what they saw. Both would agree that they saw bananas in that bowl of fruit. I then ask what other fruit was in the bowl and the following conversation could take place:
Husband: "Well, there were also two red apples in the bowl."
Wife: "That is not true. There were two oranges in the bowl."
Husband: "What do you mean it is not true. I saw them with my own eyes."
Wife: "I saw the same bowl of fruit, and I am telling you that there were no apples in that bowl."
The husband and wife then proceed to argue about what they saw or didn't see. There argument may include yelling, degrading, name calling, and so on. This may sound comical, but I see similar scenes--minus the bowl of fruit and replaced with another subject--on a regular basis in my counseling office.
So during this argument, who was right? Well they were both right in claiming that the bowl of fruit had two apples (husband) or two oranges (wife), but they were both wrong when they claimed that the bowl did not have the apples (wife) or the oranges (husband). It is all a matter of perspective.
Our life's experiences, positive and negative, help shape our perception and memories of what happens to us in our environment. People react differently to the same situations based on these life experiences. Problems can arise when we are so focussed on our own experience and forget that our spouse may have a different perspective.
Let's say one spouse does something to hurt the other spouse (whether intentional or not). That spouse may apologize, but if the hurt spouse does not feel that the apology was sincere, they may not "hear" the apology. An argument might later come up about whether the spouse apologized or not. In reality, both spouses are right because of their perceptions of the situation.
The next time you get into an argument with your spouse don't get upset when they don't understand you or see your perspective. Don't try to prove to him or her that you are right, and that they are wrong.
My challenge is for you to embrace your spouse's experiences and differences of opinion instead of trying to prove to him or her that your own experience is right. As you come to understand their perspective, you might actually gain a better understanding of the whole bowl of fruit. I originally posted this at Walk a Mile in Your Spouse's Shoes