Recently I had surgery on my right hand. Prior to the surgery I was telling a friend how I dreaded the thought of being dependent and was worried my wife would be overworked and get tired of our new, if temporary, routine. My friend said, “relax it’s your turn to learn about receiving.” And learn I did.
I learned that allowing someone to give to me was a blessing. Far from being annoyed about having to give so much, my wife relished it. She told me it was her turn to say thank you for all I had done for her over the course of our marriage. When I saw her joy in helping me I was ever more aware of how much she loved me, and that for me to refuse her help would be to deny her an opportunity to love me.
I learned I could put my ego aside and see my recovery as a spiritual experience that would bring us even closer together. My wife was giving me the gift of her “presence” and I needed to accept. Let me share two aha experiences I had. We were out one night having pizza. When it came I could not cut it so Becky did. My immediate reaction internally was to think everyone was looking at that poor guy who needed his wife to cut his food. When I looked around no one was looking at me they were all enjoying their own food and friends. Once again I was reminded I am not the center of the universe. The second experience also happened in a restaurant. This time not only did my wife have to cut my food but she had to walk the salad bar for me as my right hand was in a plastic cast. As we were finishing our dinner a couple who had seen what transpired came over and said to my wife how it was obvious how much she cared for me. They weren’t focusing on weakness but rather the strength of our relationship.
So an experience I was dreading on some level became a time of great spiritual growth and closeness for my wife and me. We have always had a wonderful relationship, now it’s even better. As Rabbi Irwin Kula wrote, “Purity of love is not about being perfectly reciprocal. It’s about how honest people are to each other as to how they are giving and receiving… our yearning to give generously and receive gracefully is at the heart of our quest for intimacy.”