Secret #1: Always give your spouse your best, and always show appreciation for whatever he or she does for you!
Some people say that marriage is give and take, that marriage is 50-50. The Jewish people have a different perspective: marriage is 100-100. Judaism says that marriage is giving and giving and giving … and not keeping score.
The key to loving is giving. Why do parents feel so much more strongly for their children than their children feel for them? Because they’ve been giving to their children for such a long time. We think we love the person who gives to us, but we’ve got it backwards. That’s just self-love. We love the people we give to.
Moshe was gobbling up his fish sticks one evening in yeshiva. His rabbi asked him if he liked fish. Moshe said that yes, he LOVES fish. The rabbi said to him “No, Moshe. You don’t love fish…you love yourself. If you loved the fish you wouldn’t be eating it! It’s your pleasure you’re focused on.”
Give to your spouse! Try and make an accounting at the end of each day. Ask yourself if you gave to your spouse today. Did I smile when my partner walked in the door at the end of the day? Did I remember to call home from work? Did I buy his or her favorite foods? Did I make dinner with love because I was thinking of the person I was serving? Did I pick up the dry cleaning? Did I take out the garbage?
These are not earthshaking tasks. They don’t require monumental effort or extravagant expenditure. But they could change your world. And if you change you world, you will impact others as well.
Don’t Take Anything for Granted
There are a number of ways “to give” in a marriage, and in all relationships. One is to express appreciation. Don’t take anything for granted. Whatever your spouse does for you, be grateful. Maybe you feel it’s his job, maybe you feel it’s expected, but be grateful anyway.
I repeat: Don’t take anything for granted.
All people need to feel appreciated. Especially your spouse.
The experts say that when praising a small child’s drawing, we should not simply say that “it’s beautiful.” Rather, we should look carefully and single out different aspects. “I like all the colors you use. I especially like the purple. That sun looks so warm. I see you worked hard at this picture.”
Put Yourself in Your Partner’s Shoes
Although we like to pretend otherwise, we adults are no different. We like praise, and the more detailed, the better:
“That dessert was really spectacular. It looked and tasted good. That must have taken a long time.”
“Thank you for doing that errand for me. You saved me a lot of time.”
“I’m so happy you tidied up our room and folded all the laundry.”
In order to build a truly unified relationship we must try to put ourselves in our partner’s shoes. How does the world look for their perspective? The more skilled we become at empathy, the more meaningful our giving will be and the greater our closeness.
This is the first article in a new “Dating, Love, and Marriage” series. Stay tuned for more!
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin