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Newlywed's Labyrinth

One night, when a newlywed couple were sound asleep in their bed, the husband dreamt he was visited by a genie who told him, “I will grant you any wish your heart desires.”

The man was deeply in love with his wife, and without hesitation he said. “I have only one wish. To live for a hundred years and have my loving wife still at my side!”

The genie replied, “Your wish may surely be granted. But before I can grant you a wish such as this, you and your beloved must first pass a test. Let me forewarn you before you accept the challenge of my test, if you should fail, I am afraid you may instead find yourself a man in lonely solitude long before your life ends.”

“For this wish to come true,” the man said, “my beloved and I will pass any test you can devise.

So the genie woke the man’s sleeping wife and took both of them far away to a strange land where stood a large garden labyrinth. She explained to the young couple that the labyrinth contained countless passages and for the man’s wish to come true, they must choose the correct path that would lead them out on the other side together.

The man protested that such a test was too difficult.

The genie said, “There is a simple secret in choosing the right passageway each time, which I can not reveal. But rest assured, it is easier than it appears.”

“So be it,” the man agreed. “We will pass your silly test!”

The genie left the two alone to enter the labyrinth. As soon as they did, they immediately came to a choice between two different passageways. In trying to decide which way to go, they began to argue. The woman felt compelled to continue through the passageway on the right, but the man wanted to go through the passageway on the left. After what soon turned into a mildly heated exchange of words, the man finally conceded and they continued through the right-hand passageway.

But soon they found themselves in the same dilemma. The man again felt certain the passageway on the left was correct and she, the one on the right. This time, after another long argument, the man’s wife conceded to his chosen path.

They continued on, passageway after passageway. Sometimes they picked the same path but most of the time they differed and argued until one of them finally gave in to the other. Both were near exhaustion when they entered a large open area with two wide passageways from which they again had to choose. As had happened many times before, each stubbornly insisted on different directions. This time neither could find the will to concede. The man felt they were nearing the other side and was convinced that he was right. Likewise, the woman was certain she was right.

After a long time arguing without nearing agreement, the man decided he would alone try the passageway of his choice and leave his wife behind, hoping to return to her later with news of discovering the way out of the labyrinth. As soon as he entered the passageway, he found himself having to choose between two new directions which he did quickly now that he was alone. Then he began to run through the labyrinth, randomly choosing directions until, all of a sudden, he found himself on the outside.

Elated to have found the way out, the man reentered the labyrinth but soon became confused and lost. He ran through the maze of passageways for endless hours but was unable to find the way back to his beloved wife. He hopelessly fell to the ground and cried for the genie to return.

The genie reappeared and spoke to him, “Your beloved did not wait for you to return. She, too, continued through the passageway of her choice. She also found her way out. The secret I did not tell is that all of the paths in the labyrinth eventually lead out to the other side. The real test was only to see if you two would stay together until the end. This test you have failed. I am afraid to say that long before your life ends you may find yourself a lonely man in solitude.”

The man woke from his dream in a panic sweat, frantically swung his arm over his wife, and embraced her with all his strength. She woke up startled and when she asked what was the matter, he muttered, “I had a terrible dream and all I know is the only thing in the whole world that really matters is that we always stay together.”

As she looked at him quizzically, he told her that if he could have any wish he wanted, he would live to be a hundred with her still at his side and not let anything tear them apart.

– Love requires giving and sometimes giving means giving in.

© 2000 William Oak. Reprinted with permission.

Excerpt from For Love or Nothing by William Oak, a collection of 25 lessons in love. The ideal gift for college students — and seekers of every age.