Photo: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

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The Minor, Yet Not Entirely Painless, Sacrifice Moment
Picture this kind of heaven: You're lying in bed with a Russell Stover four-piece chocolate sampler. Further, you are watching reruns of Law & Order: SVU. Meanwhile, your spouse is the living room, talking to his mother. A bright, ugly lightening bolt zips through you: He would never, ever know if you gobbled down the whole box without telling him, because he doesn't even know it exists! The receptionist at work gave it to you for helping her photocopy 50 expense reports.

You quickly tear open the box—but not so loudly that he might hear—and start with the least desirable choice: the coconut. Ten very long seconds pass, after which you stuff in the chocolate fluff and the almond cluster but stop—mournfully—short at the caramel.

When your spouse enters the bedroom, he spies the tiny exquisite box on the pillow—and looks at you hopefully. The surprise on his face at seeing that you not only saved him a candy but you saved him the crown jewel of sampler, which also happens to be his favorite sweet of all time...sure...that's gratifying. What's more rewarding, however, is realizing that though his joy is more than yours at this particular moment (he has the candy, you don't—it's ridiculous to pretend he isn't happier), you feel oddly joyful too. There are other times when you'll give and it'll hurt pretty bad (example: He's stuck at horrible job, and you take on a second job at a dry cleaning factory so he can start his own company). Yet at this small but crucial moment, he got to be celebrated, and you got to be generous.


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