Kindness is by definition the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It should be no surprise that research shows a strong correlation between kindness and marital satisfaction. However, after years of marriage, some of us begin to neglect being friendly, generous, and considerate with our spouse.
So what does being friendly, generous, and considerate look like in a marriage? It can be as simple as saying hi and bye to each other in a friendly manner, being generous with words of affirmation, bringing home your spouse’s favorite snack or drink, being considerate of what your spouse needs at this moment: quiet, a walk, a back rub, a listening ear, humor, tacos, ...
Did you know it’s more difficult to be kind when you’re tired or stressed. Or is that just me? Self-care: getting enough sleep, eating healthy, drinking water, exercising... is a gift to your marriage. Even still there will be times when life feels too heavy and being kind feels impossible. It’s not; it just feels that way. Sometimes kindness looks like holding back the mean words you so desperately want to shout.
And yet, there will continue to be times when spouses are unkind to each other. The good news is if kindness is how we are most of the time, then the times we are unkind will have little negative impact on our marriage. However, if we are mostly unkind, then the few times we are kind will have little positive impact on our marriage. It’s who we are most of the time that matters.
I even have more good news: Kindness is not a personality trait. You can learn kindness. The more you “exercise” kindness, the stronger that “muscle” of kindness will become. And you can start today. Ask your spouse: What Is one act of kindness that you’d like to see more of in me? What can I do to show kindness to you? If your spouse doesn’t know, leave the door open. Tell him (or her) to get back to you whenever he thinks of something. In the meantime, you think of something.
Tricia Bores, RMHI