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It's Not About the Diamond

May 9, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

Presents are nice. Luxurious presents may be nicer. But don't confuse them with real thoughtfulness and caring.

"You have been married 10 years and you don't have Journey piece?" is the new way that DeBeers Group plans to sew the seeds of discontent in our marriages. Just as engagement rings -- with emphasis on size and shape -- have become synonymous with that expression of commitment, so too should the new multi-stoned diamond necklace (with the diamonds gradually increasing in size) symbolize growth within marriage and renewed commitment.

The purveyors of such a shameless manipulation have no problem describing their plans publicly, so confident are they of its impact, so sure are they of our susceptibility.

And we are susceptible. We fall into the trap of dissatisfaction with our spouses because we didn't get a romantic enough anniversary gift, a thoughtful enough Mother's Day gift, a dramatic enough diamond for our ring. Even while objectively recognizing the foolishness of this outlook, we still fall emotionally prey to this philosophy. And good husbands are judged by artificially manufactured standards.

Instead of looking outside our lives for what would be preferable, let's look inside our marriages and be grateful for what works.

Not only should we not buy the sentiment that Hallmark or Godiva or our local jeweler is trying is sell us, but we also need to be careful about comparing.

You can almost see our eyes turn green as we examine rings, bracelets and flower bouquets received by other (luckier? happier?) wives.

But external gestures are easy. They may require money -- and I'm not diminishing the thought and time that may also be involved -- but they are a brief one-time act. They say nothing about the ability to care for us, to be solicitous of our needs, on a daily basis.

If you can have chocolates and constant attentiveness, all the better. But instead of looking outside our lives for what would be preferable, let's look inside our marriages and be grateful for what works.

No flowers, but he changes the light bulbs? No chocolates, but he's wonderful with the kids? No diamonds, but he'd lay down his life to keep you from harm? It's the unrecorded commitment and effort that are the most impressive. No one's looking and complimenting.

While everyone may see the new Mercedes the man down the street bought for his wife, no one sees how many times your husband gets the baby in the night. No one watches him clean the kitchen, read to the children or rub your back. No one applauds him for getting takeout so you can have a night off. Or wiping the floor after your bout with the flu (or other nausea-inducing situations). Or listening patiently as you talk of your day even as his eyes are shutting. Or for dealing with the leaky faucet and the termite infestation.

There are no diamonds to mark growth in character, hurdles in patience overcome. There are no necklaces that can capture attentiveness and concern. There are no flowers that express the fun, the joy and good times shared.

Presents are nice. Luxurious presents may be nicer. But we shouldn't confuse them with real thoughtfulness and caring. We shouldn't permit them to distract us from the Jewish ideal of "being happy with what you have". We can't allow ad campaigns to get in the way of our Shalom Bayis (domestic peace).

Our husbands are susceptible to those ads too. We have to make it clear that we love and appreciate them, multi-stoned necklace or not. That their smile and love for us is their biggest gift. And then perhaps for our birthday...


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