Here are some stories of wisdom I share with my couples. They are universal tales, passed down from one generation to the next, which demonstrate giving each other ‘gifts’ by stretching emotionally.
The Spoon Story
One day a couple went to God (or spiritual leader) and asked God what was the difference between heaven and hell. God brought them up to a room and they saw a couple trying to feed themselves from a big cauldron of soup with large ladles. They were starving because the spoons could not reach their mouths. God said, “This is hell.” Then God took them up stairs to another room. In this room, they saw another couple with a large cauldron and long ladles; but this time they were feeding each other and were well nourished.
This story deomstrates that when one partner ‘visits’ with the other, listening and keeping the space between them safe is imperitive, so their partner can take a risk and share difficult issues.
The Bird Story
One day a student (could be male or female) was very envious of his teacher because the teacher (could be male or female) was so wise and seemed to know all the answers. So the student devised a plan to fool this teacher and make her look like a fool in front of the other students. He found a bird and covered the bird in his hands.
Then he went to his teacher and asked her if the bird was dead or alive. If the teacher said the bird was alive, the student would crush and kill the bird. If the teacher said the bird was dead, he would open up his hands and let the bird fly away. So, he went to his teacher and said, “Oh wise one, is the bird I hold in my hands dead or alive?” The teacher said, “My child you are holding life in your hands, choose well.”
The following story demonstrates the concept of validating each other’s truths and perceptions instead of finding the ‘truth’.
The Angel Story
One day in heaven the angel of truth and the angel of peace were fighting to come down to earth. God could only pick one. So God threw down the angel of peace. The angel of truth said, “Why did you chose peace over truth?” God said, “If I sent truth, there would never be any peace.”
This story helps couples understand the concept of ‘healing’.
Healing or Cure
There is a folktale in which the king was given a beautiful diamond. The shine, size and glow were magnificent. As he turned it from side to side, he could not believe how stunning it was until he turned it to the last side where he discovered a huge, deep, ugly scratch right down the middle. The king demanded that the royal jeweler fix the diamond. No matter how hard the jeweler tried; he was not able to fix it. The king then sent his messengers out into the kingdom to gather the best jewelers there were and to promise each a wonderful reward for eliminating the scratch from the diamond. However, none could ‘cure’ the diamond; none could return it to its original state. Finally, a straggly no-name man came into the courtroom claiming to be able to fix the diamond. The king was desperate; and though no one really believed this ruffian, the king gave the man the diamond and made the same promise he had made to all the others. Days later the stranger returned and handed the diamond to the king. As the king turned the diamond, he was again impressed by the beauty of the unblemished sides. Then he slowly turned to the final side and stopped in amazement. Instead of erasing the scratch, the jeweler had carved into the stone a beautiful rose using the scratch as the stem. The rose shone brightly on the diamond. No one had ever seen such a beautiful specimen before or since. That is the difference between being ‘cured’ and being ‘healed.’ All the previous jewelers were trying to ‘cure’ the stone. The stranger ‘healed’ it.
I invite you to share stories and metaphors about relationships from different traditions.
Ann Klein – Columbia Marriage and Relationship Counseling teaching couples effective communication skills to resolve conflicts, reestablish intimacy, and restore caring and connection in their relationships.