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You Can Get More With A Spoonful Of Honey - 6/12/2014

One day, the sun and the wind had an argument. Each claimed to be stronger than the other. The sun spoke of how powerful she was; that she could cause land to dry up and become deserts and bring about blindness in individuals who looked at her directly. The wind wasn’t impressed.  He said, “I can blow down trees that are 100 years old.  I can whip up oceans and create waves that can destroy everything in their path. I can fill the sails of ships and cause them to glide over the ocean, or be crushed by the churning waves.”

Neither was convinced, so they decided to hold a contest to determine which was the strongest. At that moment, a man walked by wearing a heavy jacket. They looked at him and came to a rapid decision. The one that could best divest him of his jacket would be the victor. They flipped a coin and the wind chose to go first.

He huffed and puffed and blew with all his might. Time and time again, the man fell to his knees and slid over the ground, yet he persevered. Between bursts of wind, he repeatedly attempted to stand erect. He bowed his back and leaned into the wind, but he never took his jacket off. To the contrary. The harder the wind blew, the more he clung to it. He buttoned it, belted it and pulled the collar up to protect himself. Finally, the wind gave up. He congratulated the man on his perseverance and said to the sun, “It’s your turn.”  

The sun rose higher in the sky and became brighter and brighter. The hotter it became, the warmer the man felt, until he unbelted, unbuttoned and shed himself of his jacket. The sun, with a smile of satisfaction said, “You attempted to win by forcibly subduing this man. The harder you blew, the more he attempted to prove he was as strong as you. All I did was shine on him until he took his jacket off of his own volition.”

This story can apply to every one of us. It contains a message that you’ve heard countless times, though the words or content may have differed. All of you probably recall the story about Tom Sawyer and how he solicited others to help him whitewash a fence by convincing them it was enjoyable and fun. Similarly, I’m sure your mother told you that you can get better results with a request preceded with the word “please” than you can with a demand. Very likely, the words she used were, “You can get more with a spoonful of honey than you can with a gallon of vinegar.” Let me give you several examples:

Mom was at her wits’ end. Her seven year old son adamantly refused to get out of his school clothes. The more she argued, the more he fought back. She attempted to physically undress him, but he kicked, screamed, and fought back. In the end, she sent him to his room and told him he could not come out until he took his school clothes off. She was as frustrated as she had ever been with him. He was a handful. Every interaction was a contest. Every request met with opposition. She felt helpless, a failure, and, on occasion, wished she had never had him.  Then she felt guilty for having those thoughts. If this was an example of what was to come in the future, she didn’t know how she would last. In the past, she had been horrified when she heard accounts of mothers who had abused their children, but on this occasion, she thought, “I’d like to go in and wring his neck.”

Finally, she called her mother and asked for help. Her mother had raised five children and wasn’t at all alarmed by her grandson’s behavior. She said, “Honey, I’ve been there, and I discovered with your eldest brother, that a contest of wills doesn’t work. Even when you win, you lose. What is happening is that you are acting like a child while trying to  raise a child. I can’t guarantee that my suggestion will work, but here’s what I recommend you do. Go in the kitchen. You know he loves those refrigerated chocolate chip cookies. Make some and put them out on a tray. Then open his door and here’s what you do....” She followed her mother’s instructions and, as predicted, a head appeared in the doorway, and she said, “I’ve made some cookies for you, but they’re the chocolate chip ones you like and the chocolate goes everywhere. Why don’t you take off your school clothes so you can eat them without worrying about the chocolate dripping all over?”  

It sounds too simple, and too obvious, but it worked. In effect, the sun shone and he took off his clothes of his own volition. You might ask, “will it work for adults? Of course.

Adam complained for years about the scarcity of sex in his marriage; the fact that his wife never initiated intimacy, and the fact that over the years he’d tried everything to change the situation. “I’ve bought her things, I’ve taken her on vacations, I’ve waited to see how long it would take until she decided that she wanted it. Nothing worked. Now, once or twice a month she decides to throw this dog a bone. You know, I get mad at myself for accepting it, and mad at her for treating it as a distasteful duty.”

I tried to explain to him that it’s very possible that his wife felt the same as he. That her perception was that all he wanted was sex. All he was after was her body, and what she wanted was love, the same thing he was looking for.  Except, he was looking at sex as evidence of the fact that she cared and he mattered.

While she was viewing sex as a way of giving in and satisfying his demands, and that sex, for her, doesn’t indicate love.

Love for her is warmth, closeness, attention, soft words and emotional nurturance.”

He  said, “I understand. It’s the same feeling I have when she doles out sex. I get mad at myself for accepting it, because I feel like I’ve given in.”

“Perhaps, if you were able to give your wife the ‘love’ she’s looking for, she would later, of her own volition, give you the ‘love’ you desire.”

He said, “You know, when I look at it that way, I’m not angry anymore. I understand it.”

It’s my belief that all of us need to understand that helping someone to behave of their own accord is a much better way of getting what you want. Huffing and puffing only causes them to push back. Give it some thought and see how you might be able to alter your behavior so that it’s similar to that of the sun.

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