Generosity in Marriage


I recently referenced an article from NY Times Magazine that said researchers found that generosity towards your spouse – as in little acts of kindness – is found in the happiest of marriages.

This has really got me thinking.  I just wrote a post about it here on the Equals Record.

And here’s Danny doing something very, very generous for me.  He made 26 (!) lemon souffles for a dinner party!

Care to share any little acts of kindness going on at your household?  (Hopefully I’m not the only one who needs ideas 🙂  I say we all exchange ideas and choose one new thing from the list that we’re going to do.  Let’s make this happen!



P.S.  Thanks to some helpful readers, we had a great suggestion to check out The Hat Shop on Thompson Street.  It’s sounds like one of New York’s gems.  We have an appointment with the proprietress for tomorrow and I’m so excited!  (Danny and I are crazy about hats.)

P.P.S.  Thanks, Verily Mag, for sharing the NY Times article.  I’m loving your blog!  (You readers might like it, too.)

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  1. mara June 28, 2012 at 6:39 am - Reply

    I'll start this off. Here are a few ideas (I had to think hard. Sheesh):
    -Buy or borrow a book that might be of interest
    -Give a good back or foot massage (why does this usually get put off? They're so good AND free.)
    -Buy or make a snack (D: you have some granola bars coming your way)
    -Iron a bunch of shirts.
    -Charge their cell phone if they forget (Danny ALWAYS does this for me. I should return the favor.)

  2. Happiness June 28, 2012 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Happiness comes to them who opens their door for small treats that life provides to them. So be happy and live longer!

  3. Anonymous June 28, 2012 at 7:17 am - Reply

    I'm not sure if it's just me but your blog always crashes! I read many blogs and I doesn't happen to any others only yours. Either it's problem or I just thought I would bring your attention to it

    • mara June 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Anon – THANK YOU for letting me know this. I'm cking into this. Oh man, I need a tech around here. But I'm going to see what I can do. I'm so sorry for the hassle. And for a temporary fix you could subscribe to the RSS feed in Google Reader. Hope we can get this taken care of soon!

  4. Anonymous June 28, 2012 at 7:22 am - Reply

    – Prepare the bottle of water or coffee for your significant other before he/she goes to work. If they work at home, prepare a cup of tea or his/her favourite juice (leave it somewhere and send a text message to tell them where to find it – if you are not at home).
    – Write cards and leave it in the mailbox
    – Decorate the mailbox inside or leave some candies (your significant other and the postman or postwoman will be pleasently surprised…)
    – Do the task your significant other loves the least at home once in a while (may it be throwing away the trash or doing the dishes).

  5. Ashley Doan June 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    I think with men, they want to feel needed in a relationship…like you absolutely could not live without them. It gives them this extra confidence by providing for their family.

    With my husband, I let him "fix" things that I know I can take care of, but I give him the opportunity to take care of me by doing it instead. It's little things – like never learning how to use the 4 remotes we have so he has to show me over and over again and leave how-to instructions if he is out of town (he loves this and laughs about it all the time).

    I also make sure to always thank him for the sweet things he does for me like opening doors or carrying my laptop bag into the house…not taking his generous actions for granted is big and really circles around to letting him know that he is needed and appreciated.

    • Punky J June 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      Haha Ashley… I love the "playing dumb" with the remote controls. Even though… honestly those things ARE confusing.

  6. Bennet June 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Whenever I mention a new song or album I really like my husband will put it on my i-pod. He always does it early in the morning before he leaves for work, while I'm still asleep. Then when I wake up I see my i-pod on my nightstand. He makes it so that's the first song/album I see when I turn it on. It's very sweet.

  7. Alyssa June 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Since I don't have a washer/dryer at my teeny tiny apartment, my boyfriend volunteers to do some of my laundry for me when he does his. It makes me practically jump for joy at the thoughtfullness.

    He also starts my car for me to get the A/C started while I'm packing up/trying to get out of the house in one piece.

    In return, I surprise him with jelly beans, gatorade, and meals for his week away at work.

    I also surprise him by planning dates that I think he'll like too like the batting cages.

  8. Mary Beth June 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    This is a wonderful reminder, Mara. Thanks for the encouragement. My husband is very self sufficient and naturally generous. It is so easy for me to fall into the habit if accepting his generosity but having a hard time thinking of ways to reciprocate. He won't eat breakfast, wont eat sweets (usually), etc. your article is just the encouragement I need to keep trying and think harder!

    • mara June 29, 2012 at 4:57 am - Reply

      Mary Beth – I'm in the same boat! And yes, it's been great to think about it more.

  9. Lottie June 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    my husband makes me a cup of tea in bed every morning and it is such a lovely thing and makes me so happy. and he also is doing all the washing up at the moment as i don't seem to get round to it.

    i iron his shirts and put them away for him so he never has to worry about it and i baked his favourite cookies just because.

    i love all the little thigs we do for each other, to me they are more important than the big thigs 🙂

  10. Jessica Sliman June 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I love this. My husband is also a pretty self-sufficient man. I have two little girls and I find it really easy to get caught up in taking care of them….so caught up, sometimes, that I forget to go out of my way to do nice little things for him. Lately, I've been hiding little notes in his car or sending him fun youtube videos to break up his day. I know what would really make him happy is if I could iron his shirts 🙂 SO thanks for that suggestion!

  11. Mel June 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    My husband and I write and leave little post-it notes in random places (my favorite is on my laptop screen; when I open it, it's the first thing I see). My husband is really good at picking up my favorite treat or snack on his way home from work. I try to always make sure he is coming home to a clean house.

  12. Sharlee@believinginsomething June 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    My husband is better at the generosity thing, that's for sure. But I'm getting there. He is currently working and going to school full-time on both. A few nights a week he doesn't start heading home until after 10:30, but he still calls to see if I need anything on his way home. No matter how late it is, he will ALWAYS rub my shoulders or my hip (I have achy joints:) if I'm hurting. He makes me the best comfort food if I'm down. So some things I do in return? I pack him a lunch every day, surprise him with banana bread (his favorite) every so often, and tickle his back before we fall asleep at night…he LOVES that. Funny, how I don't even think of those things as acts of service at all anymore…it's just how we are. It's not about breaking even or doing it out of obligation. He likes those things and I like to make him happy and vice versa. It feels so good to be cared for that way.

  13. megan June 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Off topic – but you have to go this hat shop! Hats by Bunn – you'll have to hoof it all the way to Harlem but it is AMAZING! 🙂

    And while you're up there – have Danny check out B.Oyama – the MOST beautiful men's clothing shop ever! 🙂

    • mara June 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      Megan – you're right – that hat shop looks amazing. Thank you SO much for the tips. I love going to Harlem and I can't wait to try out these places. thx!

  14. thelovepark June 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    just every person want to marry. love is not enough but love can do things we could not imagine. Thanks to your blog.

  15. Marissa Noe June 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    My husband does little things- a lot of things which I don't know about. One time when I was first married I kind of complained (selfishly) that I never got things that I wanted. And he showed me a list on his computer of things I had mentioned wanting… and he had gotten me every single thing. I felt soooo guilty and was so touched by that.

    Besides little things like that, he takes care of things I just don't like doing- like updating my iphone software, killing spiders, and making me healthy food (because I am usually too lazy to do that especially with two preschoolers and a newborn)

    It is definitely the little things that count. I could definitely learn from his example and be more generous!

  16. Tara June 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    I have had a lot of anxiety problems in the past year and a half. It turns out the underlying problem was my thyroid, but…my husband just one day took over doing the laundry for our little family. He still does it and it's just one kind act that comes to mind when you ask about kindness.

  17. Rik June 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    I love this! It's so nice to be able to give and serve our spouses. One thing I do all the time is fold his shirts a certain way. Different from how I like it, but it's the way he likes it. Just a simple thing, but he's always so happy about it!

  18. Jen Berry June 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    We've been dealing with Cancer Treatment for 3 years and married for 3 years. We've had to "relocate" to Maryland from LA for 4 months for my husband's 2nd stem cell transplant. I do all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. I actually enjoy doing this. It makes his life much easier and he's so very appreciative. He doesn't have the energy to do most things for himself. He did manage however to find a local spa and order a massage for me while he was in the hospital for his transplant. It's something I could have done for myself, but the fact that during this energy depleting time, he thought of me and researched where to take care of me in a city we are unfamiliar with.

    • mara June 29, 2012 at 5:01 am - Reply

      Jen – wow. That is the sweetest thing ever. I am sure that must have meant the world. Thanks so much for writing in. What a journey you guys have been on. Bless you both. Sending you love from Brooklyn!

    • Jen Berry June 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks. It's been a rough time in our 30's and we can relate to the inability to have children. We are hoping to try IVF next year when he's cured (optimism!!! I'm trying). IVF sure isn't cheap.

  19. Lauren June 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Last night my husband realized that the magazine he wanted to read before bed was downstairs. I offered to go down and get it for him. You would have thought I had offered him a tropical vacation- he was so delighted and appreciative that I would be the one to get out of bed and serve him. It's a joy to do it though- he is always doing kind things for me 🙂

  20. Marilyn June 29, 2012 at 8:57 am - Reply

    My mother turns 90 this year. My father is not well and has been in hospice care at home for a while. My mother tells me that he has a hard time keeping warm, and when he wakes up cold in his bed he worries about my mother getting cold, so he take his blankets and puts them onto her. That makes her hot and him even colder, but you cannot deny the sweetness in that gesture.

    • green February 14, 2016 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Sweetest story ever.

  21. Captivating Eyes June 29, 2012 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I doubt Danny remembers me, but I used to go to his ward at BYU. I think the 228th. A mutual friend shared your blog and I'm so excited to read it!! I just got married 11 months ago so I'm looking for any ideas to make this last. 😀

  22. Danielle June 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    We juice every morning. Danny does the juicing. HE walks outside and picks things from our organic garden. He adds lemon, because that's how I like it. He is a one in a million guy. While he does this, I make his sandwhich for lunch. Simple things mean the world to us. And I am one blessed gal to have him in my life.

  23. Anonymous June 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    My dad travels a lot for work and gets bad anxiety when he travels. For years, my mom has dropped everything she does in order to go on every trip with him. She packs his suitcase before they leave and irons his shirts in the hotel room. I have loved watching their relationship bloom as they share all these experiences in different cities. Best example of marriage and commitment I've ever seen.

  24. Punky J June 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Oh man, I loved reading all these comments. It makes me so eager and excited to someday have a husband of my own whom I can do sweet things for. Thanks for opening the floor for such wonderful little stories, Mara. This blog is such a happy place.

  25. Anonymous June 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    My husband's allergies are insane to the point where he can sneeze in repeated succession for 30 minutes or more before his nose starts to gush blood. It's terrible. So whenever we stay at a friend/relative's house or stay in a cabin, I always pack a stack of clean pillow cases so he can go to sleep misery free. On his end, he always writes something incredibly heart felt in all of his cards to me. No simple "Love, Husband" from him. He does so many more things for me all the time. I tell him he was lucky to marry me but really, I'm the lucky one through and through.

  26. ApRiL June 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    I travel often for work and no matter what time of day or night I return, my husband always comes to pick me up from the airport. And he doesn't just do the drive-by pick up. He parks the car, comes in and meets me at baggage claim. He also scoops out the cat box which is my least favorite chore! 🙂

    I make his favorite meals, leave notes in his car and make notes of the list of adventures he's always talking about going on so we can make them a reality! He's wanted to learn to surf all his life so on our last vacation to Hawaii, I booked private surf lessons for him. His look of surprise and the joy of watching him surf for the first time are the best gifts!

  27. Linn June 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    I just saw your post and had to reply.

    My hubs is wonderful to my 80 year old parents, particularly my mother – thank you, Lord. He takes them to the dr., helps with their meds and is sooo patient with them. Last night, he rode 3 hours to evacuate them from their home that was flooded in North Florida. It has been an emotional experience for them to leave their home and I can't thank him enough for his generosity and selfless love.

    He loves to exercise and, even when I'm really tired, I make a point to go to the gym with him, ride bikes or run. It means a lot and is something that really winds up making me feel better! He's also colorblind, so I have to pick his clothes everyday. You can tell if we've had a little "debate", because he has to pick out his own…. Always black and white 🙂

    • Christine July 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      I love this! I love how sweet he is with your parents, and then I laughed about him picking out his own clothes when you have a "debate". Sounds like a wonderful love you have!

  28. Krizia June 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing Verily Magazine with your readers! We are very big fans of A Blog About Love over here 🙂

  29. Anonymous June 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    There are so many touching and beautiful comments of generosity – it gives me hope.

    I have done several of these acts of kindness for my husband, but sadly my actions are never appreciated and always taken for granted. Even more sadly, he never ever has done things like this for me. It's all about him. After 11.5 years of marriage and two small boys, we are about to start our divorce. Maybe one day a Prince Charming will find me too. 🙂

    • mara June 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Anon – I just was able to get to a computer and had to reply. I just want to send some love and hope your way. I know how hard it can be to not have your love returned. Oh man. My heart breaks for you. Don't give up on trying to be at peace and trying to feel empowered, regardless of what your circumstances are. I'm rooting for you. Much love, M

  30. Anonymous June 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    These comments completely opened my eyes to the amazing things my husband does for me. I have a hard time trying to figure out what to do for him, he loves gifts but we don't have a ton of money. But he does like when I sit through one of his favorite movies. And I did stop by his work this week to bring him lunch and a snack, I knew he was working long hours.

  31. Christine July 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    I love doing (and receiving) these little things! I tend to give presents while my husband does service for me, I want to get better about performing service for him.

    I like to pick up a treat for him when I'm at the grocery store, buy a game for his phone when I know he wants it and is stuck playing the free version, re-start the dryer before I leave in the morning so his work clothes are dry (takes two cycles in our dryer…)

    He ALWAYS does the dishes, it's amazing. He takes care of me when I'm feeling a bit pathetic or sick, and he is quick to run down to the car (we live in a second story apartment) if I forget something. It's such a short trip out there, but once I'm in the house I hate going back down!

  32. Shevon Jacobs October 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara & Danny (and all the other readers :))

    Gosh, firstly – God Bless you above and beyond your need! I was feeling very low last week and asked God to please speak to me to uplift my spirit. Nothing happened that day but the next day I stumbled onto your blog and wow I was so encouraged and my spirit was so uplifted. How great is God and how faithful are you for allowing yourselves to be a channel for Him to speak to us, especially how to love one another. I am getting married November, 24th and I am looking forward to applying all of these wonderful lessons/tips you share with us. I'm looking forward to having a marriage of unconditional love. And reading this post and the responses just makes me more excited to be more generous with my fiance. 🙂

    Abundant love, blessings and babies!

    Thank you.

    • danny October 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm - Reply

      Thank you Shevon! We are delighted that you found this place at a time you needed it, and that the words shared here by ALL have been uplifting to you. Thank you for your prayers…and thank you most of all for your commitment to live a life of greater love. That is the best possible way to "pay it forward" that I can think of.

      God Bless!

  33. SarahN @ livetolist August 25, 2013 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I like to think we're good at this!
    – I return from my run (or early church) with his favourite coffee
    – send him random lovey cards
    – finding things in packed, sticky-taped up boxes in the middle of the night (moving night)
    – hiding a love note in his suit jacket

    – makes me mac and cheese (gluten and lactose free) when I'm feeling worse for wear

    I'm sure he does more, of course, but not coming to mind :p

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