For the past 19+ years, I have been married to the most attractive man I have ever met. That is a great feeling. What surprises people who know us, is that even in a marriage as wonderful as ours, the “great feelings” come and go!
I was amused last week to realize that both Mr. Parris and I have been equally influenced all these years, by the following story. It’s a story I’ve told dozens of times, but I don’t remember us ever talking about it. If there is a secret to our success, it lies in this tale:
One day there was a wife who was wickedly angry at her husband. She was hurting bitterly from years of unmet needs, and disappointment in her husband’s behavior. She dreamed of ways to get back at him, to make him hurt in return.
Somebody told her about a very old wise man, who sat atop the nearby mountain. Surely he would have a clever and sinister idea for her.
At the suggestion, the woman climbed the mountain and found the wise man.
“Sir,” she told him. “All I want to do is to cause heartache for my husband. I don’t think he even has feelings, but if he does, I want to hurt them!”
“Aaaaah, of course,” he responded with great empathy. “I will tell you what to do. For the next 2 months, I want you to just pretend that you actually love him. This is just for a short time, and there is no emotion necessary. Just ask yourself often, ‘what actions would I take if I loved him?’ and then do those things. Then, come back and see me, and I’ll tell you what to do to hurt him fiercely.”
“Okay,” said the bitter wife. “I guess since it is just for a short time, and no emotion is necessary, I can act like I would if I loved him. Oh, boy!”
In the following weeks, she enacted the plan wholeheartedly. She faithfully acted like she was in love with her husband, and then she returned to the sage on the mount, for the rest of the plan.
“So you followed my advice? Good!” said the wise old man. Ready? Here is what you do next. You climb back down that mountain and you just LEAVE your husband. That’s it. He will be so shocked after your kind actions, that you will break his heart!”
“leave!” gasped the woman. “I can’t leave now!”
“But why not?” he asked.
“Because…” she began, stunned at her own discovery. “…because now, I love him!”
“Aaaaah, yes.” smiled the sage. “I suppose you do!” and he said no more.
“Love is not a feeling – love is an action, an activity…true love implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom.” – M Scott Peck