Accepting differences in relationships

Over the years, I have seen that one of the major reasons for trouble in marriages is the belief some couples carry, that they should have no difference of opinion whatsoever! How can a two people born and brought up in different circumstances, have the same opinion concerning multiple issues in the family?! Be it the decision on how to spend a holiday, what to purchase with the bonus amount or even where to go for dinner, there are bound to be differences! But most couples cannot accept that.

In such situations, it helps if one of the partners has a good sense of humor with which they can lower the tension. But not everyone uses even humor wisely. Often, some people indulge in misplaced humor for the sake of being humorous and it ends up badly for them! Like the husband who once jokingly commented that he had got trapped into marriage. The wife angrily reminded her husband that he was the one who had chased her around everywhere. Followed her to the bus stop, office, home, everywhere. The husband unwilling to stop joking mused that what she said was true. But he jovially added, “The mousetrap never runs after the mouse! It is the mouse that runs into the trap!” Can you guess what a flare-up that would have caused? 

Another reason for fights between couples is because they knowingly or unknowingly use comparison. They end up comparing themselves to other friends, family members, those who are in a better financial position, those who go aboard for vacations, etc. But comparisons are also a sure way to ensure fireworks explode in the house! 

Let me narrate a story from Zen.

A Zen Monk once travelled to a neighboring country and his presence drew great crowds. From morning till night, many would come to simply prostrate at his feet and worship him.

This became intolerable to the Commander of the army of that country. He went to the monk and said, “I am the Samurai of this country. I have thousands of soldiers under my command. But you, who are almost like a beggar, looking to someone else for your next meal, get more respect and regard than I do! How is that? I feel bad and jealous looking at you.”

The monk led him out of the hermitage. It was a full moon day. He pointed to the moon and asked, “What is that?” The Samurai assertively said, “Moon.”

The monk then pointed out to a rose blooming in the garden and said, “Now, what is this?” The Samurai said, “A rose!”

The monk smiled and nodded. “Does this rose ever compare itself to the moon and say, I am not white and bright like you? Does the moon look at the rose and say, why am I not colorful like you? The rose possesses one kind of beauty, while the moon is pretty and pleasant in another way.”

Even before the monk stopped speaking, the Samurai realized the truth. With moist eyes, he apologized to the monk and left in peace. He realized each person is unique in their own way.

Couples need to learn this simple truth. Everyone is unique in their own way. We need to learn to rejoice in our uniqueness. It is in senseless comparisons that we cause sorrow to ourselves and others. We create obstacles in our relationships by unwisely comparing ourselves to others. We may think that comparison is motivation. But blind comparisons are roadblocks to our joy. They are burdens we place on ourselves and others. 

To truly experience the richness of relationships, we must learn to accept ourselves and others, no matter how different we are. Then we can truly enrich our lives and those of others.

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