Thich Nhat Hanh Q & A: How do we ensure that the stronger partner does not overpower the weaker one in a relationship?

loving relationship

Phote by Luigi Diamati from

Q: A loving relationship should be made up of two equal partners. How can we ensure that the stronger of the two does not overpower the weaker one and swallow him or her?

A: As soon as the concept "one" appears, the concept "two" also appears. It's like the right and left. Reality should transcend the concepts of one and two. If you put the teaching into practice, you will find the answer on your own. The principle of the practice is equanimity, using the wisdom of nondiscrimination.

The right hand never tells the left that it is a good-for-nothing. The right hand does not discriminate against the left nor take pride in itself, because it deeply knows that it is at one, or "non-two", with the left hand. Every time the left hand needs it, the right hand comes and takes care of it without insisting that it is the better, stronger hand. In a relationship it's possible to have this wisdom of nondiscrimination. When we are capable of living with each other like that, there is no stronger or weaker person, no taking advantage of the other. If there is a tendency to take advantage of the other, it means that the wisdom of nondiscrimination is not yet present.

From Answers from the Heart (2009) by Thich Nhat Hanh. With permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California.