I’m pretty good at thinking about myself. You know, what do I need, what do I want, how do I feel, and so on. Marriage, and even more so, motherhood, has helped me get out of that mentality and ask myself, what does he need, what does he want, how does he feel?
With my kids, it’s easy to get in that “giver” frame of mind. After all, I am taking care of all of their physical needs all the time! I’m constantly on the lookout for signs of hunger, fatigue, boredom, whatever.
With my husband it’s trickier. He’s pretty mellow, and he doesn’t emote readily (which I’ve heard is fairly common for menfolk), so if I want to know what’s going on, I really have to ask. And that isn’t something which comes easily to me. Talking about myself? Got it down to a science! Asking about others … well, I’m working on it.
So today, as we were walking home from our Shabbos meal, I asked him,
“What’s your favorite part about Shabbos?”
He stopped to think, and then mentioned some of his favorite things. Among them, he said he wished he had more time for reading. Since he helps me out with the kids a lot on Shabbos (awww), he doesn’t have much time to read for himself.
When we got home, he transferred the sleeping toddler to his crib, the baby was happily gurgling on the floor, and I puttered around putting away the coats, blankets, etc. I noticed that my husband had picked up the Zman magazine. I had been looking forward to reading that magazine. A lot. And here my husband had nonchalantly started flipping through it.
“Wow – did you see the article about the people who won the lotto?” he remarked.
“Yeah, you should totally read it,” I replied.
Okay, I didn’t mean that second, I meant sometime in the undefined future, after I had already finished with it. Just then, as the baby made known to me that he was ready to be fed, I thought to myself:
I was really looking forward to reading that magazine. However, here is a prime opportunity to let my husband have something that I know he wants. It’s not like the magazine is going anywhere, and it’s not like if I don’t read it this instant I’ll implode from boredom (G-d forbid). I need to just let him read the magazine.
So I did (let him read the magazine, not implode from boredom).
And you know what? After he finished the article, he gave it back to me and I got to read it, too! Win win!
Even though this was a seemingly minor incident, I felt like it was a major victory over my (totally human and normal) tendency to focus solely on my needs and wants, and a step towards becoming an expert “giver.” It reminded me of the concept that the more you give, the more you have.