They were quiet as they came back from their neighbour's house with their little one fast asleep on his father’s shoulder; they’d gone over for dinner, and the husband had noticed his wife growing quiet as the evening progressed, “What’s the problem?” he asked her as they let themselves into their own house.
“Nothing!” said his wife quietly.
“Come on, out with it,” he said gruffly.
“What’s the use, you’ll never change,” sniffed his wife. “Did you see how our host looked at his wife throughout the evening?”
“How did he look at his wife?”
“With love!” wept his wife, “There was adoration dripping from his eyes, all the time. Then when I looked at you….”
“You didn’t see any I guess?” he said sadly.
“No I didn’t!”
The couple silently got into bed, the man wondering how he should start looking at his wife with love and adoration, and the woman dreaming how it would be to have a husband like their neighbour.
Since the two families lived across the street from each other, each was able to observe the activities of the other’s family. One day, a few days later, as she met her neighbour, the wife confessed she'd been watching what went on in her neighbour’s front garden and that she envied her. “I don't know what you mean,” said her neighbour with a puzzled look on her face.
“I wish my husband was half as nice as yours,” said the wife. “I see your husband out in the front tending the garden. I wish my husband would do the same. Your garden is beautiful!”
Her neighbor laughed, then made her confession. “I’ve been doing the same thing. I watch your husband in your front garden, and I have envied you! I watched him carrying your toddler home that night. How caring he was. I see him playing ball with him so nicely too. How I wish my husband would do the same thing! He never wants our children in the way when he gardens.”
That evening as she sat at home waiting for her husband, she asked herself, “Be honest, would you rather have your husband play with your son, and help look after him, then someone who looks at you with adoration, maybe because you look like his well-kept garden?” She realized her neighbour’s husband might have the best garden in the world, make eyes at his wife all the time, but her own man had so many wonderful, meaningful and hidden qualities which didn’t come out in looks of love or sudden hugs and kisses.
She looked away from the grass on the other side!
How often we enviously look across at our neighbour’s green lawn, blind to our own blessings that are so obvious to others. Let us cultivate the habit of concentrating on our own blessings rather than brooding over what our neighbour has.
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org