Moments before I walked under the wedding canopy in Sydney, Australia, I went up to my mother and asked her to give me her blessing. She herself had had a very difficult marriage that ended in an acrimonious divorce thirteen years later. She took me by the shoulders, and then, wiping tears from her eyes, she spoke words which I shall never forget: “Shmuley, remember when you were a little boy and heard all those fairy tales about people living happily ever after? Well, they aren't just fairy tales. It is perfectly within your power to be a fairy-tale husband and to have the perfect marriage. It simply isn't true what they say, that you have to fight with your wife and every marriage involves struggle. Unhappiness isn't inevitable. Be the perfect husband, and make your wife feel that she is the luckiest woman in the world.” These words, uttered to me by a woman who had endured a very painful marriage, but had never grown bitter or despondent, have helped me throughout my marriage.
Does the one you love feel the luckiest person alive? What have you done or said in the last 24 hours that might have made your love feel the luckiest person alive?
What is so sad is that it is often the smallest, easiest little things one person can do for or say to another that can bring this about, and yet so many couples don't bother. It seems so very short-sighted! We all want to be happy in our relationships: that means taking action to bring that about, on an on-going basis.
Rabbi Boteach also told the following story:
I remember when I first got engaged, and was plagued by all the usual doubts that accompany the big plunge into commitment and marriage, how an Australian rabbi whom I was friendly with saw me walking across the street in New York. With callous disregard for his own safety, he charged across the street, ran up to me, and gave me a big hug. “Congratulations,” he said, “I just heard about your engagement. You are the luckiest man in the world. I worked with your fiancÃ©e when we were both teachers at a Jewish school in Sydney. She is the most amazing girl. I hope that my own children will one day find someone of such high caliber.” He gave me an-other hug, and ran off. I remember thinking to myself, indeed, how lucky I was, which helped dispel the feelings of anxiety and melancholy that were gripping me at the moment. I also remember thinking what an amazing man he was, a truly righteous individual. One day when one of his children marry, I hope to be able to reciprocate this kindest of gestures.
As well as making the one we love feel the luckiest person alive, we can, through small gestures like this, make others feel the luckiest person alive in their own relationships.
When you make someone else feel good, the smile on the person's face can often stay with you for a very long time, warming your own life, making you smile, and making you want to spread more happiness. And when you do that, you dramatically increase the chance of having good relationships in your life: you dramatically increase the chance that you will be deeply happy in your life. It is in all our interests to make each other feel the luckiest person alive.