I once overheard a Rabbi who had just recovered from a terrible bout of the flu that even such a small thing as the flu can remind you how fragile we are and how reliant we are for everything on Hashem.
I have been fighting a head cold all week, which I happily came down with only post-bar mitzvah last Shabbos. Of course, given my druthers, I would take a head cold over a virus any day. Sure, head colds are painful and annoying, and yes, I get CRANKY either way, but colds are more bearable somehow for me.
Anyhow, while doing some shopping for Shabbos last night as I cleaned the house, my husband made a new discovery, which he presented to me when he returned. And boy, did my face light up when I saw it!...Puff Tissues with Vicks scent.
Now, I will admit that I hated Vicks as a child. Too slimy. Too strong a scent. Too... overpowering in every way for the child me. But let me tell you, these tissues are a find. They cuddle my peeling, Rudolph nose and that gentle waft of Vicks does impart comfort in a kind of "almost 5 years old again and your mother is taking care of you" way. And, while it can almost certainly be attributed to the placebo effect, I will attest to feeling- despite all claims by Puffs that their product only imparts a Vicks scent and should not be confused with using the actual Vicks product - my sinuses clear out a bit.
My husband did not present me the tissues with any fanfare. In fact, he simply dropped off the packages and went out to do a bit more scrounging around. In other words, he got the tissues solely to provide some comfort, without any need for fanfare, etc.
I will acknowledge that my husband and I can drive each other batty. Indeed, we do so not just frequently but constantly. In many ways, men and women are programmed to do exactly that; you can love your spouse but because they are a man or a woman and you are not, there is a lot of a room for that "what the heck was that" reaction? Would so many stories, tv shows, and movies have been devoted to that same topic if this reaction was not commonplace?
But when I saw those tissues, let me tell you, I felt loved. We all have needs, and the key in marriage seems to be finding a way to meeting the needs of your spouse. So step 1 is identify what your spouse needs and step 2 is attempt to fulfill that need, especially if you can fulfill it in the way that your spouse wants. For example, maybe your husband gives you some sewing to do or maybe your wife asks you to take out the garbage. Do you give a look or a mutter and do it begrudgingly, or do you smile, say Thank You (because this is an opportunity to do something for him/her), and do it without a second thought? Now this latter attitude is very hard to maintain, no question about it. But I think the key is exactly that: recognizing that our spouse is asking for our help, and thereby giving us an unspoken compliment, namely that s/he trusts us enough to do the given request in a satisfactory way.
Maybe a box of tissues is a "duh" need when your wife has a cold. But when I saw that he had devoted time and effort to picking out just the right box of tissues, without the usual phone calls being placed with questions to aid selection- now that was not just meeting my need, but meeting my need in the way I needed it to be met.
A simple communication in a box of tissues. How sweet is that?