Recently, I attended the funeral of a friend. He and his wife Cathy had the kind of love story that we all strive for. They had been married for 40 years. During his eulogy, it was said that he woke up every day and asked himself, “How can I make Cathy happy today?” He obviously was a very smart man. He knew the secret to a happy marriage.
I remember way back in middle school (we called it junior high back then) we had required reading lists for English. One of the stories that really stayed with me was “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. If you haven’t read it, you really should. The short version of the short story is this: A young married couple doesn’t have much money but they want to give each other a gift. The only thing of value that she has is her beautiful, flowing hair. The only thing worth anything that he has is a pocket watch. But, they love each other and want to show it. Unbeknownst to each other, she sells her hair to buy him a chain for his watch. He sells his watch to buy her combs for her hair. In the end, they have two useless gifts but they realize that their love for each other is the most precious gift of all. They are willing to give up their most prized possession to show their love for one another. It should be no surprise that my favorite Christmas movie is a variation of this story, “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.”
In our selfie-obsessed society, it’s often hard to see past our own needs. But if both partners are asking, “What can I do today to make my spouse happy?” I think many more marriages just might survive. If both partners are constantly giving to the other, instead of just worrying about their own needs maybe more people would feel cherished instead of slighted, and feel safe instead of defensive. How can you make your partner happy today?