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Advice from Dr. Stanwix – The Greatest Gift of All

Advice from Dr. Stanwix – The Greatest Gift of All
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Rather than respond to a question from one of our readers this month, I would rather let you read a letter I recently received from a man in Brooklyn, New York. He and his wife have what many may consider a rather unorthodox approach to gift-giving, especially at this time of year. However, I think there is a great deal of wisdom in what he has to say.

I look forward to hearing from you next year.

Have a great holiday season and a prosperous, fruitful relationship in 2016!

All the best,

Dr. Michael Stanwix

Here is the abridged version of his letter:

Dear Dr. Stanwix,

I don’t write you because I have a problem with my relationship. I am one of the happiest husbands in all of Brooklyn (and beyond). I write because I think that marriage and relationships can be so much simpler than people make them. Too many people have their priorities on inside-out, and I’m here to say it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to focus on what’s truly important in a relationship: Each other. So, let me tell you a little about our relationship.

My wife and I have been together for more time than we bother to count. We rarely even remember our anniversary. Let’s just say we’re long passed the “Tin” Anniversary and moving our way on to the more precious metals. From the beginning, however, we’ve realized that there are things far more precious than gold, silver and diamonds in our relationship.

On the day of our wedding, we exchanged rings that cost five dollars for the pair. We put them on the wrong hand and we don’t even know where those rings are today. They are merely things, and no matter if they cost $2.50 or $250,000, their value adds nothing of value to our relationship. My wife and I need nothing to remind us that we are happily married. Those who have memory problems might better tie a string around their fingers to remind themselves they are married. And if that doesn’t work, what was the point in spending all of that money on a wedding ring in the first place?

My wife and I realized at the outset that spending money on being together, on experiences in nearby and exotic places was far more important to us than money spent on romantic trophies or paraphernalia. There is not one monetary treasure that will make us any richer as we grow old together. There will just be the joy of looking back on what was a happy life together full of rich experiences that we’ve shared.

My wife and I have also tuned out the emotional blackmail of consumerism during holidays and other days of remembrance. Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries and especially Valentine’s Day are treated like any other day. We don’t generally exchange gifts and neither of us counts that as a mark against the other.

Now, that’s not to say that we don’t buy gifts for each other; that we don’t go out to dinner and fête our love in so many ways. However, we would rather celebrate our love with random acts of generosity. We realize that every moment is precious and that even the simplest token is appreciated. With no expectation to buy gifts, much less at certain dictated times of the year, our gift-giving is more spontaneous, and something that better reflects our relationship.

As many of us have children, busy lives, aging parents, life can be complicated. Our tokens of appreciation don’t need to follow the latest trend or gift-giving gimmick. Big or small, they should come from the heart and they should come any time we feel like giving them.

What our relationships need are fewer manufactured expectations and more genuine expressions of love. There is no reason why we shouldn’t give gifts, but what fun is it if we are expected to do so. What good does it do our relationship if those gifts can’t be shared and enjoyed by both people?

As you say, Dr. Stanwix, relationships require a lot of work and a great deal of communication. We must start by appreciating one another and working together to dedicate whatever time and resources we have to making that relationship the best it can be. After all, when we consider all the gifts we have received during the course of our lives, the greatest gift of all should be the person we share a relationship with.

So, this holiday season, if your significant other doesn’t buy you the latest technological advance or the latest fashion to show how much he or she “loves” you, think about what you expect and why you expect it. Love, respect and appreciation cost nothing, but they are worth more than any gift and you can give them to each other every day of your lives.

Have a wonderful holiday season,

Blessed in Brooklyn.


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