Can Partners with Different Belief Systems Be Happy Together?
There’s no sense in beating around the bush: It can be extremely difficult for two life partners to peacefully coexist if they subscribe to vastly different belief systems.
Having vastly different beliefs from your partner (religious beliefs, political beliefs, ethical/moral beliefs, other strongly held beliefs, etc.) can destroy your relationship — unless you’re both fully committed to finding a way to manage those differences in a harmonious way.
Even then, it’s still not guaranteed to work. To show you how and why this occurs, meet Clyde Coffee.
He absolutely loves drinking coffee. It’s his favorite drink, and he’s had it every single day since he was born. In fact, drinking coffee is his family’s tradition. Everyone in his family — parents, grandparents, and cousins alike are obsessed with the stuff. It makes them really happy, and good for them.
Here’s the problem: Clyde’s family won’t tolerate anything other than coffee. In fact, they look down upon anyone who drinks anything else. If you are a soda or iced tea drinker, they would hardly even acknowledge your presence.
One day, Clyde was hopping down the street and set eyes on a yellow bunny that instantly caught his eye. Meet Leah Lemon.
Leah’s family is a bit different from Clyde’s; they exclusively drink lemonade. It’s all she’s ever had since she was born. However, Leah is all grown up now, and does not judge other rabbits based on what they drink. In fact, one of her best friends is Freddy Fruit Punch.
When Clyde and Leah first met, they felt some obvious chemistry between them. Since it was sunny out, they decided it’d be a great day to have a picnic together.
Birds were chirping, a warm breeze rustled the trees, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly well — until they pulled out the drinks. As soon as Leah pulled out a bottle of lemonade, Clyde began to panic.
As you can see, Clyde and Leah have run into a problem. Though they initially had good chemistry, they also have different drink preferences — and Clyde is not willing to accept that. Leah is not trying to force her preference down Clyde’s throat, and is happy to see him drink what he likes, but she is not willing to switch to coffee. And so, they are at an impasse.
Just then, Clyde and Leah spot something neither of them had ever seen before: a bunny with wings, able to magically take off and fly. Meet Serenity, the flying angel bunny.
Upon seeing Serenity for the first time, both Clyde and Leah were suddenly awestruck. Her aura was glowing, and she radiated a calming vibe that instantly put them at ease. She seemed to have a very pure soul.
Leah explained her and Clyde’s situation to Serenity, in hopes that she would have some wisdom to embark. They wanted to know what Serenity could teach them about coffee and lemonade — and what her favorite drink was as well.
This is what Serenity had to say:
It’s great to hear you ask about this. I’ve got a story that may be helpful.
Many years ago, I was in your shoes. As a little bunny growing up, I used to drink a sparkling strawberry soda every day. The recipe had been passed down through my family for ages, and our entire community was convinced that it was the greatest drink in the universe. We’d been led to believe that drinking sparkling strawberry soda was our destiny, and it was our mission to put it in the paws of every bunny around the world.
Looking back now, the problem with that way of thinking was that we weren’t really concerned with learning about or experiencing anyone else’s reality.
We were too convinced of our own righteousness, because it’s really easy and convenient to just arbitrarily decide that you’re always right and everyone else is automatically wrong. It prevents you from having to do the uncomfortable work of questioning yourself, changing, and growing wiser.
The truth is, no one alive has all of the answers. Anyone who believes they do is surely mistaken. No one has all of the answers, but everyone has some of the answers — because we’re all different pieces of the one majestic grand puzzle of life. So if we really want to get as close as we can to understanding the true nature of life, it serves us well to get in the habit of trying to learn new lessons from everyone we come across.
Through experience, I learned that spreading sparkling strawberry soda around the world was just not meant to be.
It was a scary time for me. I was still just a young bunny when it happened. The storm of the ages had built up steam, and made a direct hit on Serenity Point. It was left completely in ruins, and I was the only survivor. Overnight, my entire community had disappeared into the ether. Everyone I knew — my family, my friends, everyone — along with our knowledge, our culture, and everything I had ever come to know was gone.
I was lost in the forest with no one to guide me. My survival was at stake, and I had to move quickly. I hopped as fast and as far as I could, looking for help — but eventually couldn’t make it any further.
It had been almost a week since my last sparkling strawberry soda, and I was so weak I could no longer even spring into a hop. I felt the end was near as I began to lose consciousness.
When I woke up, I was in an unfamiliar place I’d never been to before. Some traveling bunnies had found me passed out, and rescued me to safety. They brought me back to life with a drink called shirley temple that I had never heard of before. But somehow, it did the trick and saved me. They said it was a miracle.
I asked if they had any sparkling strawberry soda, but they had never heard of it. It turns out that the recipe for sparkling strawberry soda was never written down, it was passed down from generation to generation. So when Serenity Point was destroyed, the knowledge of how to make the drink was also lost.
I spent the next few years traveling, searching for anyone from any village who might know how to make sparkling strawberry soda. But it was no use. As I traveled from village to village, I would survive by drinking whatever the local villagers would drink. Apple juice, pineapple juice, pomegranate juice, and yes, even coffee and lemonade. I’ve tried them all.
Being the sole survivor from Serenity Point, all of the villagers knew me by the name Serenity. But through all of my travels, I still didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, and I still didn’t know which drink was the right one for me.
I began to find it interesting that no matter where I went, everyone thought that their local drink was the best, and that it was their mission to spread that drink around the world. Everyone also believed so many negative myths about all of the other drinks. I’ve heard hundreds of them.
Some drinks were thought to make you evil, others to make you shrink down to a quarter of your size, others to make you unable to speak. But I have tried hundreds of them, and none of these bizarre myths were ever true. And all of those who spoke of the myths had never tried any other drinks but their own.
I can’t really say I blame them, though; I understand why they are that way. I probably would never have tried another type of drink either, but I was forced to by necessity.
My circumstances gave me a unique experience that almost no one else was able to relate to. I began to see that all of the different drinks served their own purpose, and that I could get along with anyone, no matter what they used to quench their thirst.
What I eventually came to realize is that there was a common thread that binds all of the drinks together. You see, each and every one of these drinks is made using water, mixed with some other ingredients. And so now, after sampling all of the drinks, water is the one I choose most often when it’s available.
Water is the essential element within each drink that we need for our survival. Most of the other things we add to the water are not essential, and some do not help us in any way. But if you filter any beverage down to its purest, clearest form, water is what you’re left with.
My journey has taught me that life often works in the same way. There are many different belief systems and rituals, and we can experiment, explore, and learn from a wide variety of them. But we have to learn to decipher the part that’s pure — the water — from the unhelpful parts that others added in for their own reasons.
If you prefer a specific type of beverage because you’re accustomed to it, that’s great. But never forget that this is just a preference, and others’ preferences may differ from your own. This does not make either of you better or worse than the other. Just remember to find the common ground that binds you — the water — and learn to let the non-essential elements fade away.