The Magic Eye of Marriage

Posted by: Shel 20 Comments
The Magic Eye of Marriage

Remember those Magic Eye books and pictures that were everywhere in the early 1990s? Like the picture above, they were chaotic blurs of colors, shapes and seemingly abstract patterns. The promise was that if we looked at the two-dimensional picture in the right way, we would see a three-dimensional image emerge before our very eyes!

So we would squint, move the picture around, stare into the colors – and still it looked the same. But when we were persistent, we could make it happen. If you held the picture close to your face – nose almost touching – and backed it away slowly while staring at it unblinkingly, the picture in front of you morphed magically into a beautiful, interesting, or complex design. Even though you were looking for that transformation, you were still taken by surprise when it appeared because it was right there – and had been right there the whole time. You just weren’t looking at it with the right focus. And remember how once you finally saw it, you could move the picture around and still see the inner picture – often even more clearly when you moved it farther away? That’s because your focus at that point was on the depth of of the picture instead of the chaotic facade.

And so it is with marriage. We let the surface appearance of chaos and disconnectedness in our busy lives turn into our reality – the 2D version of us. The beautiful, the interesting, the foundation of what we started with is in the midst of that. It’s available for us to return to and hold on to when our big picture blurs into something we don’t recognize. It’s worth the effort to squint and shift our view and persist in our efforts until we see clearly what our main focus is – the 3D version of us. Once you know where it is, it’s what you keep seeing.

Magic Eye of Marriage


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  • Yes. You see what you look for. xoxo Great post!

  • I love the analogy here! It is so true once you see something it is hard not to see it again. Same is true for your focus. When you start to focus on something you see it and think it often. We must make sure we focus on the positives in marriage!

    Thank you for linking up with us over at True Agape!

    • Shel Harrington

      I agree with focusing on the marital positives, Cassie. I heard something recently with regard to shooting that is so applicable to marriage: if you don’t look at what you’re aiming for, you’ll miss every time. Thanks for the link-up as well as all the other good stuff you have over at !

  • I remember these books Shel from when my children were little in the 90s! You make a great point here. Sadly, as you know, things didn’t work out in my previous marriage (22 years) but today, 9 years on with hubby, I am so grateful to see a clear picture no matter which way I hold the book, or squint 🙂

    • Shel Harrington

      Sometimes those older books had pages so fragile they just fell out, leaving very little substance to read. I’m glad you are in a book with sturdy pages and print large enough to be seen across the room, Sherri!

  • What a great analogy! Love it!

  • Great metaphor and the connection is so simple.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Letty – I like that the pictures come to life if one just invests a little time in looking at them the right way!

  • Great post, Shel.
    My mother always said that clear vision of close details serve us well in life. In love, squinting is acceptable, and looking with our hearts instead of our eyes.

    • Shel Harrington

      I like that, Marylin – there are definitely times we should be squinting and heart-looking at our loved and hopefully they will return the favor!

  • Yup. One minute I have the best marriage ever. The it’s awful. Then it’s the best again.

  • love the title, looking with gratitude and not a critical eye is so important-how I change me not him/her.

  • Why don’t I remember these? The 1990’s weren’t that long ago. All I can remember is “Where’s Waldo?” Great comparison, Shel!

    • Shel Harrington

      I think as a puzzle junky you’d love them, Jill – a challenge to master!

  • This is perfectly said, Shel, and I love the comparison to those pictures. They always drove me crazy! 😀 But you’re absolutely right – once we focus on that “hidden” image, it’s hard to lose it. Chaos and disconnectedness reign here sometimes in the house that ADD built and it is so easy to fall into that pattern of plodding along doing what needs to be done. We could remember more that one of the things that needs to be done is tending to that marital relationship. Great reminder!

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Lisa! For some reason I wasn’t able to pass one of those pictures without stopping and trying to “master it”! When I found an example on the net to include in my post, I tried all my little stare tricks until I had a headache and still couldn’t see the hidden image. Wish I’d seen the “Low resolution on computer image” note above the picture before investing so much time and brain cells on it!!

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