In our egocentric society, couples often marry because they hope to receive more from a spouse than they did as singles. But unless both partners give instead of take, their love will die of malnutrition. Children use people as objects. They believe that people and the world exist only to make them happy. As we grow older, we are supposed to become as Godlike as possible.
After G-d created the first person, He proclaimed:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be as one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
Since Adam and Eve had no parents, this verse implies that the parent-child relationship is unique insofar as parents give unreservedly, while children take. People have to reverse this mentality before marriage by being givers, not remaining takers. This means learning what others need and trying to provide it. This requires listening with sensitivity and trying to give our partner what he or she needs. This often means delaying our own gratification and compromising what we want.
Some people don’t fulfill a partner’s needs because they assume the partner has the same needs and feelings that they do. Instead of doing only what pleases us, we should learn what a partner wants and try to provide it. Someone whose gifts and efforts are seldom appreciated may not be giving a partner what he or she really wants. Good communication, patience and a willingness to acknowledge someone else’s differences from us is necessary in order to find out what that person’s true desire is.
People with successful marriages realize that no matter how much they have in common with their mates, there will always be differences. Their partner is not like them. It is normal and healthy for two people to have different likes and dislikes, styles of communicating, interests and goals, ways of thinking, and emotional needs. By accepting the validity of their differences, they can focus on what they have in common and appreciate what they love about each other. They can use their differences to enrich their union instead of feeling threatened by the fact that they are not the same.