I have to admit that, at first, I didn’t understand all the hubbub of “the dress” that hit social media a few years back. You know the story – whether the dress was “gold and white, or blue and black.” I really thought the whole issue was crazy…until, in casual conversation, I discovered that my wife saw that dress completely differently than did I.
I wouldn’t have believed it were possible – but we brought up the picture on my MacBook Pro (hey, all us “Mac guys” know how accurate our screens are!!!). There, in beautiful full color, was that now famous dress. Cindy saw blue and black. I saw gold and off-white. What? This can’t be! This little exercise defied all previous experiences that I had known pertaining to the discernment of colors. But the fact that my dear wife was seeing it differently rocked my world.
So, we decided to have a little fun with it. I took that same pic of the dress and imported it into Photoshop, and then used the color picker tool. Was I ever surprised to find that my Mac agreed with my wife’s perception as to the dress’ colors. My eyes and brain were interpreting those colors in a different way than hers. Before that test, I would have been SURE that I knew the real shades of hue that had been used in that garment.
All this reminded me of a truth that I learned years ago. No, not about dresses or their colors – but an important lesson concerning communication. It was during a marriage seminar, and my friend Danny Jones was teaching on achieving true communication between a husband and a wife.
Drawing a stick figure, he showed a guy and a girl, looking at a strange object. In his illustration, he pointed out that the guy’s viewpoint had this object being tall, with 3 protruding points coming out the side. The girl, on the other hand, was seeing something quite different. She saw the figure as having a concave side – with points on the top and bottom, nothing at all like what the guy had described. Clearly, they couldn’t be looking at the same thing, right? The guy insisted that he was seeing and describing it perfectly. But the girl was not persuaded – she saw a “dent” in the middle.
Danny pointed out that this is the way that many couple’s communication happens…they each look at the same thing, but their perspectives are limited – they can only see “one side” of the situation at hand.
It won’t be until each takes the time to “LOOK THROUGH THE EYES OF THEIR MATE”…then, and only then, will each look at the object with a fuller sense of understanding.
We all need the eyes of others, to help us round out what we are seeing, giving us a more accurate and complete perspective.
This is true regarding most any issue, from child training to decision making. We need the eyes of our spouses, our parents, and our friends. And, we need to stop trusting only our own viewpoints, while counting other perspectives as being inaccurate and inferior.
Cindy and I first put this little model to work for our marriage in the late ‘80s. What a difference it made for me – when I paused to look “through my wife’s eyes…”
A little humility goes a long way, especially if what you’re seeing is gold and white!
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Gainesville, Mike is heard on WTMN – 96.3 FM / 1430 AM. In Ocala, on WRZN – 103.5 FM / 720 AM. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.