A couple comes in... He had intended to take his wife out on a date but never followed through. She saw it as par for the course and instead of allowing it to upset her, she gave him a pass (outwardly) but added to her filter, "my husband will never follow through". A client blows up at her kids and her husband adds to his filter, "she's just like her mom". A teen wants to go hang out with friends but his parents don't think it a good idea so he creates the filter, "my parents don't like me and don't want me to have fun." What ever the filter they distort our view of what the situation truly is.
There are several I see on a daily basis that if people can work through might have some enjoyable times with their loved ones.
1. Personality: So often we're in relationships with people who God has made so different than us. The beauty of this phenomenon is that God does that on purpose to help us focus on some one other than ourselves! When I project my personality on to another and assume their thinking the same way as I am, there is often disappointment and let down. There is a great personality test I use at www.abininglife.com. He breaks it down to three types based on the mind, will and emotion. Correspondingly that is the Thinker, Feeler and Doer. When people find out what their normal is and give themselves permission to be themselves, they then can love other for the unique way God created them.
2. Gender: Many articles have been written on how men and women are different. The funny thing is many people "know" this but few let it really sink into the way then interact with the opposite sex. We differ in so many things that it wouldn't suffice to try to make an argument here. The places I see it the most is in sex life, communication processing, relationship dynamics, task completion, and roles. A great place to start on this journey are the books "For Men only" and "For Women Only" by Shante Felman. She has some research based findings that allow couples to really laugh about their differences.
3. Past: Our past shapes every interaction we have with our life. The problem I see is when I allow the past to define me rather than merely shape me. Every statement heard, is filtered through our past and usually the reaction that comes out it has nothing at all to do with the situation. Our life is full of objective statements by people in our life. Objective means based in fact. What happens is we make it subjective which means I make it about me or what my past has told me. Our core beliefs are direct results of our past significant relationships or events in our life. I recommend people write a time line to map out their past and talk to a good counselor as to how it effects them.
4. Enemy vs Ally: Often couples come in and based on the previous filters have made their spouse out to be the enemy or worse, which helps explain why they treat them so bad. Once the bitterness and resentment set in, the other person becomes the worst possible human on the face of the planet. The irony is when people have got a divorce, they all say "I really want the other person to be happy". If we would work towards making the other person our ally then we would realize we are fighting for our marriage not because of it!!
5. Self: The biggest hurdle to jump is self- centeredness. I believe this is God's role for any relationship is to get us out of ourself and to focus on others. When I actually begin to think of how I can bless others I can be happy! There is much to be said about a self-centered person because they have a hard time addressing any of the other filters until "self" is dealt with. It takes others to reveal self, and it takes God to kill self. Even in our own attempts to deal with self, it always comes back to focus on self. As I think about God and the salvation from self, then I am free to love who he has made me to be in the middle of all my filters.
There are several more filters I've come across and I will write more in the future. These are some of the big ones I see on a daily basis. The whole point is if I can recognize where I am, then I have the freedom and choice to leave where I am. What God reveals He heals. Filters are not all bad but some just need to be updated or replaced.