Tunnel vision is like looking through an empty paper towel roll. You still see things, but you don’t see all of your options. And it will sneak up on you.
In my first marriage, I wanted to take ballroom dance classes. We were young. We were invited to many weddings and other events. I bugged my husband to take lessons with me. He was not interested.
It wasn’t until after his death at age 35 that I spotted my paper towel roll. I wanted to learn to dance with a male partner. I was married to a male partner. Ergo, he would be my partner for lessons. When he died and I found myself empty-handed, no more tunnel vision, I saw that dance lessons usually include other solo students. And I saw that many men would prefer to learn to dance in the privacy of their own home, from someone who loves them, not from an expert dancer, in front of mirrors and other people, looking as awkward as a new dance student in an adult body looks.
We put each other through a lot of rejection and disappointment for nothing.
Tunnel vision will keep you from noticing that you have options to fund your big dream other than your spouse’s brand new inheritance. When you’re looking through that roll at a pile of cash and trying to come up with the right words to make it yours, you’ll never notice any of the other sources of funding your dream. More importantly, you’ll never notice that the cash you see is actually a long-needed security blanket or that’s it sits in the palm of the much grieved relative your spouse has lost. And you will never see why all of your conversations about it are so fruitless and painful for both of you.
If you married someone with a strong fear of flying, but you’re dying to show your kids Europe, your tunnel vision may keep you focused on ways to treat your spouse’s phobia or on ways to get others to take your kids to Europe. Drop the paper towel tube, and you might see how excited your husband gets when you and a girlfriend take your kids to Europe. What fun to discover that he shares the goal, just not being part of the trip.
It really is not easy to stop this sort of tunnel vision. The person we marry is going to be the solution to many of our challenges in life. The connection we have with them will always be one of our strongest. But when you hear “I can’t” from that person about joining in your goal, check your vision. And then invite your spouse to help you see other solutions instead of being the solution.