A Fairy Tale Relationship: Be Careful What You Wish For

by Sandra on January 11

mermaid
No matter how far fetched or ridiculous it sounds, there is modern wisdom to be found in old tales.
This is a fairy tale from Europe that I have always loved:

An old husband and wife are living their lives happily on top of a cliff. The husband is a fisherman, and the wife makes clothes for the market. It gives them enough to have a good life, and their bellies full every day, although they are not rich by any means.

One day the fisherman finds a mermaid in his nets and, thinking it is dead, he runs home to his wife to tell her about it. The wife suggests going to the market and selling the mermaid for lots of money.

When they come back to the nets they find that the mermaid is very much alive, and she starts talking to the couple. “I know I am worth a lot of money if you sell me at the market,” the mermaid says, “but I have a better proposal. If you let me go, I will grant you 3 wishes, whatever you want. Just say the words ‘I wish,’ and it’ll come true instantly.”

Everyone knows that mermaids are magical, and besides selling a living and talking being doesn’t sit well with the couple. The riches they could get from selling the mermaid they could also wish for, and still wish for 2 more things besides.

They decide to let the mermaid go, and go quietly home.

They walk home deep in thought. The wife is thinking about how she has always wanted a child. She could wish for a child, a little girl with golden curls or a little boy with eyes blue as the sea.

The husband is thinking about his boat. If he had a bigger boat, he could fish more easily, and his wife wouldn’t have to worry as much about him if there was a storm. And maybe some more land, so they could have a vegetable garden.

When they come home, their heads are filled with wild dreams, each wilder than the other. A castle! A horse! No, an entire stable of horses! A dozen kids, and some chickens! Owning their own land. Owning land in the village. Being mayor of the village, being king and queen of the country!

Soon the excitement gets to be too much, and they both speak at the same time. “We could wish for chickens,” “we could wish for gold,” “children,” “A boat,” “land,” or “mayor.”

Neither is listening to the other. They are letting their own fantasies get the better of them, and they get into a horrible fight.

In the heat of the moment the husband screams, “Well, if you are going to be like that, I wish you had a sausage nose!” Startled, the wife reached for her cute little button nose. And sure enough, instead of her nose, a giant sausage was hanging down now.

“Wha . . . wha . . . what did you do!” she cries while clinging to her nose, trying to pull the monstrosity off. The husband moves to help, but she screams at him to stay away.

“I’m sorry!! I am so so sorry!” the husband says. He sounds sincere, but seeing him standing there, with a whole face while she is clutching a sausage, the wife gets so angry she yells, “Well, I wish you had TWO sausages for a nose!”

The husband grasps at his nose, flabbergasted, and indeed, there were now two sausages hanging down from his face.

The couple look at each other, and suddenly realizing the absurdity of the situation, they bend over laughing.

“You could have everything you wanted in life, and you choose to give me a sausage for a nose? Really?” The wife says, still folded double with laughter.

The husband, still startled, soon joins in. “And you, you just decided to get even and then some, and give me two?” They both fall on the floor laughing.

When they sober up a bit again, they talk things through. They still had one wish left. They could possibly live with sausages for noses, and still ask for lots of money, or a child, or some chickens.

“I will still love you, even with two sausages for a nose,” the wife says.

“And I you, my lovely wife. You are still beautiful, even if you are slightly ridiculous looking,” the husband answers, looking at his wife adoringly.

“I already miss your cute little button nose, though,” the husband says sadly.

“And I, your not so little mushroom nose,” the wife answers.

They look at each other, and in unison they say, “I wish we had our noses back again.”

Lessons in stories and real life

All (non Disney) fairy tales are meant to teach us something, and this is not an exception. It is meant to each us about knowing what we want, and to be careful what we wish for.

In this story, besides teaching us about knowing clearly what we want, there are a few lessons on how to have a great relationship as well.

Even if you are sorry, that doesn’t undo the damage.

The husband was sorry right away when he saw the sausage on the nose of his wife, and probably even the second the words left his moth. He wanted to undo it, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t pull the sausage off, he couldn’t unsay the words.

It might be that what you say to your partner in the heat of the moment is something you don’t mean. However, the second the words leave your mouth, you cannot take them back anymore. However sorry you might be, that moment will always exist.

Be careful with what you say, and think twice before you say something in anger. Even if you might mean it when you say it, probably later you will regret saying it.

An eye for an eye leaves the entire kingdom blind

It is tempting to hurt someone who has hurt you. Not only tempting, but very human. If someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. Being in a relationship and knowing someone, we know exactly where to hit that it’ll most hurt.

In this case, if the wife wouldn’t have retaliated but had stayed calm, she could have wished her nose normal again, and they both would have still had one wish left to fulfill their dreams with.

When you retaliate, it will leave everyone hurt and make reconciliation that much harder and the scar of the fight that much bigger.

There is nothing wrong with saying, “You hurt me with that comment. I am going to take a time out, and we will talk again when we are both more calm” and walking away from a fight.

It is not easy, but it will help the relationship and calm things down before the fight escalates.

Don’t try to change the other person

This is the lesson I like best. In the end, the husband and wife realized that no matter what, they had chosen each other the way they were, and that is how they wanted the other person to be. None of the riches in the world measured up to having their partner be back to the way they were.

Whenever you get annoyed with someone’s bad habits, think of the positive side that goes with it. Yes, your husband might be sloppy, but he is also very spontaneous and has shown you how great life can be in the moment. Yes, your wife might nag about eating healthy, but you have never looked and felt so good in your life.

Don’t try to change the person you are with. You chose to be with them as they are, now enjoy exactly that.

Whether in real life or in fairy tale, it is always smart to think about what you can learn from a story. Learning from stories is usually much less painful then learning the same lesson in real life.

What is your favorite fairy tale, and which non-obvious lesson can we learn from it?

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Sandra

Sandra is a 33 year old mother, wife, life coach. As a Dutch national living in Mexico she is trying to find ways to make most out of life. She’s passionate about simplifying life, yet loves her luxuries and non-minimalistic lifestyle.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine Menza January 11, 2016 at 11:56 am

That was a very good fairy tale. It is amazing how we can let the heat of the moment make us say things that we don’t really mean!

Reply

Sandra January 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm

It is, and the solution is so simple. Just taking the ego out of the equation, taking a deep breath and walking away (for a bit) and we would all avoid so many problems!

Reply

Ken January 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Very interesting post…

bookmarking.

🙂

Reply

Sandra January 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Thanks, I’m glad you liked it!

Reply

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