The online posting of this essay
is dedicated in loving memory of Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht, whose yartzheit is on Tu
B'Av, by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Benz's Food
Products, Inc and Congregation B'nei Avrohom
When a husband and wife give gifts to one another in a spirit of friendship
it creates between them feelings of comradery, affection and closeness. Giving
includes a full range of behaviours from giving a material gift to giving the
gift of kindness and everything in-between. Cheerful giving attracts, and
selfishness repels. This is a simple formula, but it's implementation is not
always so easy. Successful giving requires that you know how your spouse thinks
and knowing this sometimes requires effort.
A husband brings his wife a thoughtful birthday gift. After opening the box
she begins to cry. The startled husband says to his wife, "I thought you wanted
a new toaster!" She replies, "yes, but not for my birthday!" She bought him a
beautiful designer tie because she loves clothes. He doesnt like clothing. For
him, dressing is just a chore, especially formal attire. She was hurt that he
didnt appreciate her gift. He bought her an exercise bike because he knows
being overweight is unhealthy and that her weight bothers her. She is insulted
that he is calling attention to her weight and she may even conclude that he is
bothered by her appearance and is being critical of her. She always makes it a
point to ask him detailed questions about his day at work. She very much
appreciates it when he asks her. However, he gets irritated when she asks. He
just wants to forget about work when he comes home, and feels by asking, she is
being insensitive. The lesson to be learned from all this is- Successful giving
is measured not by the giver, but by the receiver. It is the receiver that has
to be happy about the gift, not the giver.
People have what I call "love buttons." These are particular acts that make a
person feel good. Everyone has different triggers. Triggers could be visual,
auditory, or kinesthetic, etc. If you want to be a successful giver, make sure
you push one or more of your partner's "love buttons." Pushing a "love button"
makes your partner feel appreciated, understood and cared for. One person may
feel appreciated, understood, and cared for if they are taken to a pleasant
place like a park (visual trigger), another person receiving a tangible gift
(kinesthetic trigger), another person smelling the aroma of exotic perfume
(olfactory trigger) and another person giving them the gift of carefully
listening to them talk and speaking kindly (auditory trigger). It is important
to learn what your partner really wants, that is, what are their "love buttons
Some couples find themselves in a cycle of negative behaviour. They are both
angry, blaming and resentful towards the other. These hostile feelings can,
unfortunately, become chronic, lasting many years. This then becomes the "big
test" of giving because the person doesnt have a natural feeling to do so. No
other person has as great an opportunity and responsibility to perform selfless
cheerful giving with your spouse as you do. How one treats their spouse not only
may make the difference as to whether the relationship succeeds or fails, but
also underlines the basic success or failure of one's personal life.
In these times there are many destructive forces that are alienating
people from each other and breaking-up families. Now, we have to work harder and
smarter. The most potent immunization medicine for safeguarding a healthy and
satisfying relationship is selfless cheerful giving.
The more a husband and wife live by this value the healthier and more
satisfying their relationship will be. If there are children in the home, they
too will also directly benefit by the peace and harmony that will be found in
Sit with your partner. Take a pen and paper and write at the top, "I feel
appreciated and cared for when you . . . " List those actions your partner can
take that make you feel appreciated and cared for and then exchange the lists.
Try to do at least one item each day as a gift to your partner.