Skewed Perceptions

  • September 28, 2018

“Wow! I’m tired.”

Simple enough statement. Right? Not much chance of misunderstanding there! What a difference diverse perceptions can make. This is especially true for couples where interaction and misunderstandings can have far-reaching effects.

In the first years of our marriage, I couldn’t understand my husband’s lack of empathy when at the end of an extremely busy day, I’d admit to him, “I am tired.”

I thought he could at least give me a hug and say, “I’ll do the dishes,” or even, “Why don’t you sit and rest a bit then I’ll help you with the dishes.”

But there was no response.

It wasn’t until learning to dialogue (a skill taught at Encounter weekends) that I found out the reason. He explained in his letter to me, “When I say I’m tired, it usually means I’ve worked hard and am ready to relax, have supper, perhaps read the newspaper, have a short snooze then be ready to do a few more hours of light work before bedtime.”

When he read my definition of tired, he saw that I meant, “…bone-weary—so tired I almost feel sick. I am ready to collapse. Nothing short of a long and good night’s sleep will rejuvenate me!”

The light went on! Norman said, “No wonder you didn’t get the response you expected. I had no idea how tired tired was for you,”

Unrecognized difference, in interpretation, perceptions and feelings, has a definite effect on our behavior, our communication and our relationship. It is worth sharing and clarifying them with our spouse.