As you might remember, my dear husband is a fisherman. I try not to hold it against him since he is like a kid in a candy store about it, but sometimes it really can be just. too. much.

Recently he took me and our oldest daughter to a local lake to scout out a new section for possible fishing opportunities. As you might imagine it is not enough to have a lake with fish in it. It must have special attributes like shady spots with dead trees in the water that fish theoretically should love to hide in. It must also have miles and miles of wild brush to crash through while hauling two arms full of fishing poles, tackle, nets and other necessary fishing gear, none of which includes chairs or snacks.

In no way is it ever acceptable to just plop a fishing line into the water from the bank that has been mowed and/or paved for human enjoyment. No sacrifice required there, which automatically disqualifies any fish caught in such a lazy man’s way.

On this particular adventure Rob, Jennifer and I enjoyed an early morning romp climbing through wilderness. We startled several baby fawns that were trying to sleep in and created such a ruckus that the only positive was we saw no snakes. They had plenty of warning we were coming.

As we were driving away, flush with excitement at finding two promising fishing areas, Rob pulled out a map book and started gesturing at one page. He was talking about where we had just been and was trying to show me on his map one particular spot. I had another map of the same area that I was looking at. The area he wanted me to note wasn’t on my map. I told him he was looking on the wrong page of his map book because mine was the official lake map, with the seal from the US Dept. of Parks and Conservation. That was the beginning of a heated discussion with Rob insisting his map was right and I insisted his was wrong. The difference was important because of the very real possibility he was going to make me hike for miles going in the wrong direction, based on the imaginary area on his map.

After a few minutes, I did my usual argument ender and said, “ Fine. Whatever you say. I no longer care where we go. We will follow your map and I hope we don’t end up hiking to California.” It may not be a good communication habit, but it does end stupid arguments when I have decided we are not ever going to agree. And I can secretly hold it against Rob for not listening to me when I am proven right. As Steven Covey would say, it’s a win-win.

Most of the time my technique ends all discussion and we do whatever Rob wants, living with the consequences for good or bad. This time, the old boy surprised me. He refused to accept my grudging defeat. He said, “No. We are going to work through this. You are going to learn how to read these maps and understand what I am telling you.” I was so stunned by his resoluteness that I meekly agreed to listen as he laid both maps side by side and proceeded to show me how they were exactly the same.

As he studied them, he began laughing. The maps weren’t the same. They were mirror images of each other. My map was of the land, he was using a fishing map that only showed the water. No wonder both maps showed the same area, but with wildly different markings all over the rest of the page. His map showed the water depths, mine showed land elevations.

We weren’t seeing the same thing. No amount of negotiating in the world was going to change the fact that the maps were different. As we drove away, I commented, “Wow. That is a lot like life and our marriage, isn’t it? We were both right, looking at exactly the same thing but with completely different perspectives.” I thought back on our over twenty-five years of marriage and wondered how many other insurmountable disagreements we had that were really just water vs. land maps.

We have agreed that the next time we are getting frustrated, feeling like the other person just doesn’t understand our perspective, we will stop and double check the maps. It will be interesting to see how often we are looking at the same thing while using different maps.