What does kindness really mean?
We grow up being told to be kind to others, and I feel like it’s one of those words that loses some of its meaning over time. So maybe instead of defining it as the broad term “nice” we should take a minute to talk about what it is not…
Kindness is not:
My husband and I went through some really rocky times. It wasn’t pretty. Neither of us wanted to be in a bad place, but we were pretty stuck. We were walking on eggshells around each other trying not to start another argument, but didn’t really know how to move forward.
I felt that I was doing everything I could do until I was reminded of the real meaning of kindness. I might have been avoiding arguments, but I wasn’t fostering kindness in our relationship. I was constantly on the defense instead of showing kindness in action. This understanding started to change our marriage for the better once I put it in to practice.
I used to see kindness as a response to someone else’s actions, like holding the elevator for someone rushing toward you. But now I realized that to be kind to my husband, I needed to be proactive.
Unexpected Results of Kindness
Being kind means I need to be considerate of my husband. That even though I’ve had a hectic day, the last thing my husband needs when he enters the door is for me to immediately dump on him. I found that greeting him at the door to welcome him home with a smile (the hugs and kisses started showing up too the closer we became) was exactly what he needed to shake off his stressful day.
It was easy to look at what I went through and think about what I deserved from him, but the most amazing thing started happening. The more I focused on him –showing him kindness through consideration, mercy, and sweetness- the more he focused on me. The reciprocity wasn’t my motivation for being kind, but it definitely modeled the kind of love God has in mind when we enter into a covenant marriage. And in the example above, my hubby started looking forward to coming home more and even started asking about my day and how he could help me out more in return!
It’s funny how we look back at our dating and what drew us closer to each other. Little things like writing sweet notes to each other, him giving me his sweatshirt when I was cold, and countless ways where we were utterly thoughtful of each other, putting the others’ needs above our own. Over time we let nothing short of excuses trick us into believing that was no longer necessary, but it is incredibly necessary! Think of kindness as glue holding all the other aspects of your relationship together.
How to Show Kindness
Kindness can be shown in many ways, but like in most areas of life, it’s the little things that count.
- Hand over that remote to let your spouse choose the show or movie (and remember not to cringe!).
- Make your spouse’s favorite meal on a day other than their birthday.
- Stock up on their favorite snack (we now have a container filled with peanut butter crackers on my counter!).
- Bite your tongue so that you don’t criticize their driving.
- Listen to them (without interrupting) about their thoughts and dreams.
What are some examples of kindness you can show your spouse that speak love to them?