I should just say "her," because this article, in the NYT is surely aimed at women, who are invited to think about whether their husbands are generous enough. There's a study cited, naturally, but the study did little other than correlate self-reported happiness with answers to questions about how often the spouse performed acts of generosity.
I love this from the comments at the Times:
Someone should do a study of how many thoughtful writers in the NYT have jobbed out their own fine judgment to a "study" in the past, say, year. David Brooks, a fine and compassionate writer, is just one leading example among many.Boldface added.
This article is in the same vein. We should do this or that, be this way or that, "in order to" make our marriages work better, or whatever.
Generosity is a profoundly natural human impulse. What has happened to bury that natural impulse?
If I bring my partner coffee IN ORDER TO make our marriage better, then it isn't really generosity. It's simply mutual self-interest. Another dreary arms-length dealing. Instrumental and conditional "love" is no love at all. Love brings coffee because it brings coffee. It needs no empirical study.
What if someone acts generously on the expectation of better "results" that don't happen? Then what? Kindness can make a great difference, but only if we come FROM kindness, rather than trying to get TO kindness by justifying it with empirical studies.
Even the most profoundly spiritual things are, in our society, subjected to the utilitarian slavery of statistical studies. The minute we say "in order to", the conversation is over. We are simply acting as machines made of meat. We are ignoring the spark of the divine in everyone.
That spark yearns to fetch coffee and do a million other kindnesses. Forget the metric-worshiping statistical STUDIES! Listen to your heart!