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A Relationship Story
Imagine a room with just two people in it. The room is completely empty, except for the two people, a tree, and a mouse in the corner. The two people, let’s call them Jack and Bob, are happily talking. Jack is talking to Bob about how big and tall the tree is, while Bob is reminding Jack how he’d climbed it once. They then reminisced about the time that Jack gave Bob a boost to the first branch, and how Bob had climbed all he way to the top.
Suddenly, the mouse in the corner dashes towards the tree. Jack has an idea – he wants to bet Bob to see if the mouse can climb the tree. Bob, seeing how there isn’t much else to do, agrees. They both stood behind the mouse, rooting for it. “Climb!! Climb!!” Bob yells. “Stay!! Stay!!” Jack yells.
The mouse, startled, started climbing the tree. About 2 feet up, it realized that it’s a mouse and it can’t really climb trees, so it fell down, hit its head, and died.
“Ha! I win”, Bob says, “it climbed up the tree!”
“No you didn’t,” Jack replies, “it didn’t get to the top.”
“The bet was if it could climb a tree – it did”, Bob yells.
“YEAH?! Well, it DIED trying to climb it”, Jack yells back.
“It still climbed it. Pay up man!!!” Bob screams, angrily.
“What?! NOO way man!” Jack retorts, equally as angry.
The argument escalates, and the two soon come to blows. During the struggle, Jack accidentally hits his head against the tree, and lays there, dead. Bob stands there alone, looking on in horror.
A Silly Relationship Story?
Now granted, this story sounds pretty silly. However, the scary thing is, this story is not that hard to relate to. Maybe it’s not a mouse but a football game. Maybe Jack didn’t die and just got a black eye. Maybe it wasn’t Jack and Bob, but a husband and wife arguing over where to go on Saturday night. Sounding more realistic now?
So who is right in the above story? Is the mouse climbing up two feet considered climbing a tree? Was the original bet that the mouse could climb a tree, or that it had to climb a tree and still be alive? Was this conflict the result of Jack and Bob not being clear about what the terms of the bet was? Maybe Jack should’ve been more clear when he offered the bet to Bob, or Bob should’ve asked for a clarification.
Well, the correct answer here is: WHO CARES?!. That is one of the most trivial things to have an argument about. If Jack is right, then there’ll be two people, a dead mouse, and a tree in a room. If Bob is right, then there’ll still be two people, a dead mouse, and a tree in a room. The reality of the situation is, nothing is any different than when the story began, except a mouse tried to climb a tree, fell off, and died. WOOOooooo, big deal!!!
And a big deal is exactly what Jack and Bob made it into. They, together, are the ones responsible for Jack dying. There was a tree, two guys, and a dead mouse, but they’d rather turn it into a tree, a guy, a dead mouse, and a dead guy.
Had either of them not done anything at all, Jack would still be alive. If you are doing something that results in the situation getting worse (compared to doing nothing), then that is your fault.
In a relationship (be it romantic or business), there will invariably be times where you disagree about things. Before you argue about it, think about whether it matters enough to have this particular conflict resolved. Does it really matter whether he’ll pick his mother or you if you’re both drowning in a river? When was the last time that actually happened? In general, if a conflict doesn’t kill you or limit your freedom or diminish your existence too much, then it’s really not that important (yes, most things aren’t that important).
The main point to realize is that the other person is not you. Therefore, there will always be some differences. As long as those differences don’t really affect you that much, why get angry over them or make your partner feel bad about them?
Remember that two people enter into a relationship because they have something to offer one another. Figure out what that is and focus on that. You can explore other areas to see if you’re compatible, but if not, just leave that new thing alone, and go back to the parts that you have in common! No need to get angry, or sad, or kill each other over it Afterall, it’s nobody’s fault that you are different people!
Next time, we’ll talk more about how to maintain a healthy relationship
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