If you had a choice of being around rude or kind people, which one would you pick? I am willing to bet that you would opt to surround yourself with kind people. The fact is that kindness will always trump rudeness no matter what part of the world you live in. Kindness is attractive, and people desire to be around others that are kind. If that is true, why is it that when it comes to the marital relationship, spouses choose to be rude and harsh with one another.
Too many marriages today are experiencing a deficiency in kindness and it’s tearing couples and families apart. If you think back to when you first started dating your spouse, kindness was most likely one of the traits that you found attractive in your partner and it bonded your relationship. Is your marriage lacking kindness? What got in the way that caused kindness to slowly fade away in your relationship? Perhaps it’s an unforgiven hardened heart… taking each other for granted… the busyness of life, or just a bad habit that was developed over time. Whatever the reason, Holy Scripture reminds us to be kind with one another…Ephesians 4:32 says “And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
When we are unsatisfied with a part of our lives, we can respond in one of two ways. We can continue focusing on what we are missing, telling ourselves that things are out of our control and that our circumstances will never change. This approach leads to frustration and hopelessness. The other option is to focus on where you want to go, to have a vision of your desired outcome, and to believe that you do have control. This is a position of hope that will help you to take action and move your life in the direction you want to go. Success in any area of life doesn’t just show up overnight…it’s the little daily decisions and behaviors that stack up over time that eventually produce the results. The same principle applies to your marriage.
If you want more kindness in your relationship, first start off by looking in the mirror and ask yourself if you have been sowing seeds of kindness into your marriage. The book of Galatians reminds us that we reap what we sow. Galatians 6: 7, 9-10 says “Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.”
Make a commitment to being intentional about practicing daily acts of kindness, it will change you and those closest to you. There is a correlation between the level of joy you experience in your marriage and the amount of kindness you give/receive. Even though you may not feel like being kind to your spouse given the state of your relationship, try your best to push beyond that lack of motivation, if you do, that is sacrificial love. When we choose to love through the struggles and difficulties, we are mirroring our Lord’s love for us, what a beautiful and honorable act.
If you want to shift the state of your relationship, we invite you to consider starting off with daily small acts of kindness, it will help fuel the trajectory of your marriage. There are many ways to invite kindness into your marriage, but here are 3 ways you can start practicing. The key is to start small, commit to consistency, and remain patient.
- Lead and Love with Kindness – Take the initiative to look for opportunities throughout the day to be kind to your spouse, even though you don’t feel like it or think they don’t deserve it. Anticipate the needs of your spouse, and act first without being asked. For example, if you notice that your wife’s or husband’s car is dirty and needs a wash, don’t jump to judgment, but rather wash and vacuum the car for them. If your spouse is overwhelmed with chores and tasks that need to be done around the house, give them relief by taking the lead and helping out. The point is to have a proactive attitude and look for a problem to solve or a need to meet.
- Exercise Empathy – In the Prayer for Peace by St. Francis, we are reminded to strive for empathy…”O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be understood…as to understand.” The next time you have a disagreement or conflict with your spouse, rather than focusing on “being right”, focus on trying to understand their ‘feelings” about the topic. When you can empathize with your partner, you are more likely to be more sensitive to their concerns or fears, and through God’s grace, you will be open to finding a common solution that will lead to peace in your relationship.
- Be Respectful – Being respectful is something you would think is common sense, but unfortunately, common sense is no longer common. We have witnessed many married couples that use vulgar language when speaking with each other. This act is extremely harmful to the dignity of the person and the relationship. Words do matter, Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who choose one shall eat its fruit.” If you have a habit of using offensive language, work on slowly replacing words that breakdown your spouse, and use words that build up and demonstrate appreciation. As humans, we all have a need to feel respected and significant.
Don’t underestimate the power of small acts and the impact they can have in your marriage. Something as simple as kindness goes a long way and we all have the capacity to be kind to one another. If we all were a little kinder, starting in our homes, imagine the ripple effect it would have in the world. Increase the level of kindness in your marriage and you will reap the fruits of peace, joy, and hope!