Is Perception Reality?

Last week, Consuela and I wrapped up the marriage small group that we have been leading this semester.  We used a combination of our own materials as well as the small group curriculum provide by MarriedPeople.  Please take a moment to click over to their site and check them out – it’s quality material that anyone can use!

In this last session, I was challenged to think differently about a phrase that I’ve said several times myself and even taught it when I’ve spoken on the topic of management.  It’s a phrase that everyone deals with whether they know it or not.  And, it’s an example of a way that husbands and wives jeopardize and sabotage unity in their marriage.

The phrase?  Perception is reality.

Have you ever said that?  If not, I bet you’ve thought it.  Maybe you’re not using those words, but I’m sure it’s something that has impacted the way you view others around you.

A perception is reality mindset will tell you things like:

  • If it seems like she is mad, then she is.
  • If it appears as though he’s not listening, he isn’t.
  • If her actions indicate that she doesn’t care about me, then she doesn’t.
  • If he doesn’t answer the phone, then it means there’s something wrong.
  • If she doesn’t instigate sex, then she doesn’t find me attractive.

One of the problems here is that we naturally believe and trust our own perception of the way things are.  And we don’t just believe our perception, but we internalize it as the truth. And once we believe something as “truth,” it is extremely difficult to change our thinking about it.

What happens because of this thinking is that we fail at one of the most basic tools of having a marriage that lasts – giving our spouse the benefit of the doubt.  And, when we don’t give him/her the benefit of the doubt, we immediately set them up for failure…every single time.  Because when we only believe what we perceive, there is very little our spouse can do to overcome that often erroneous “truth.”

The great thing, and the hope for all of us, is that perception is not reality.  Perception is only reality when we CHOOSE to let it be.  The truth here is that we have a choice – believe what we perceive to be true OR give our spouse the benefit of the doubt and allow the opportunity to discover the truth.

The lesson that we finished our small group with the other night was from the MarriedPeople curriculum.  And, this idea of “Perception is Reality” was wrapped in a larger idea of extending grace to your spouse.  I think the two are very closely connected.  When you don’t give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, you can easily withhold the grace that they need.  But, when you extend the benefit of the doubt to him/her, you are giving them the gift of grace.

I believe that the principle of the “benefit of the doubt” is one that is vital to having a marriage that lasts “happily ever after.”  So, I want to encourage you and challenge you to explore the ways that you are allowing your perception to wrongly shape the reality that you see and believe.  I would love for you to head over to our Facebook page and comment on this article and let’s continue the conversation there!

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