After my mother died, my father said that every man should have a swift kick in the pants for not appreciating all the things a woman does for him.
A friend who was too young when she lost her husband several years ago recently wondered why more husbands and wives aren't demonstrative with one another. "Why don't I see husbands putting their arms around their wives? Why aren't you holding hands?" she asked. "Why aren't you cherishing one another?"
Why don't we?
No relationship can stay in the honeymoon phase forever and every relationship has natural ebbs and flows. Yet it has been ages since I put a note in the husband's pocket. And it's been some time since I left for a trip and found he had slipped a new journal and some chocolate in my suitcase.
Recently, I read an author who said we should be so enthralled with loving our spouse that we have little time to ask, "Am I being loved? Am I getting what I need?" It resonated at first and then it sounded a little hokey. I wondered if her spouse ever jarred her awake at night snoring because he sounded like a sheet of paper stuck in a window fan?
Our ability to cherish one another gets sandwiched between the demands of daily life - work, kids, household chores, bills to pay, calls to make, e-mails to answer, errands to run. A general state of busyness compresses communication to telegraphic code.
The husband recently brought home an armload of goods from an estate sale. You should know that we already have more treasures than we need. His haul included seven poker dog prints, a photograph of the elm tree under which our state constitution was signed and a very old, large, musty-smelling black and white print with curled edges and a water stain that he thought I might like to hang in the dining room. Seriously?
It was a line drawing of two Victorian ladies reading a letter and having tea at a small table. It was worn and drab.
And then I remembered my friend who had chastised marrieds-at-large for not caring for one another. So I paused and said, "Help me understand why you thought this belonged in the dining room."
"You like tea," he said, "and you often have friends over for tea and you like to entertain. The ladies look like they are enjoying themselves. It reminded me of you and I thought you would like it."
From a different perspective and at a slower pace, maybe it did possess a certain charm.
I said thank you, which is what I should have said at the very first.
Military couples, separated by a deployment, often start their phone calls by saying, "I love you." They say it up front because they never know when the call might be cut off. Maybe the rest of us could take a cue and move the kindness to the front as well.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.