Why Kindness Is An Important, Perhaps The Most Important, Quality In A Loving Marriage
It’s easy to be kind to your co-workers, friends and acquaintances. But after giving all day at work, you are tired and want to “let your hair down” at home. You might even ask yourself, “After a long day at work, why is kindness important to my spouse? He knows I love him.”
Another wrench in the gears is that co-workers and friends appreciate your kindness. They compliment and appreciate what you do for them and say, “Thank you” and do kind things for you too. You might not see that behavior in your partner, which can lower motivation to show active kindness to him or her.
You may think, “I have to be kind to myself before being kind to my partner.” You do need to be kind to yourself, but I’d wonder if you can be kind to both of you.
Marriage and relationships are about fairness and mutuality, so think about taking care of both of you.
What Does Kindness Mean In A Relationship?
Kindness does not mean being weak, being used or being a dishrag. Kindness in a relationship means being generous, thoughtful, caring, compassionate and supportive to your partner.
Kindness is going out of your way to be helpful the first time your partner asks and not waiting to be nagged or reminded to do something a hundred times.
Kindness is thinking of them and being selfless.
Of course, relationships need to be fair, and your partner needs to define kindness in similar ways; otherwise, resentment will build and destroy your marriage.
Sometimes, in my couples therapy private practice, I’ve seen couples take kindness to an extreme, thinking kindness means being brutally honest.
For example, if someone thinks their partner is not wearing something flattering, he or she can say, “That dress makes you look like a cow” (brutally honest), instead of “I like the other dress you wore yesterday more” (honest with kindness). Both statements provide your partner with feedback about their outfit, but the first one will probably be hurtful and the second way will be more tactful and thoughtful.
What Happens When You Show Kindness?
The major key to marital satisfaction and stability is kindness. Usually, when one partner is kind, it promotes kindness in the other partner*. Reaching out with an olive branch to create peace and harmony improves the wellness and security of relationships. Kindness is reciprocated.
30 Ways To Show Kindness:
Try to perform some act of kindness everyday. If you are unsure what your partner would appreciate, you can ask them. Some suggestions are simple, but meaningful, and other ideas will take some planning:
- Listen and validate your partner
- Give gentle feedback
- Ask them, ”How can I help you?”
- Say “I’m sorry” even when you can’t understand their position or perspective
- Text a smile or heart emoji in the middle of the day
- Bring home their favorite coffee, flowers or something small
- Express gratitude and say thank you
- Leave a love note under their pillow or in the lunch they took to work
- Make their favorite dinner unexpectedly
- When they ask you to go to the movies, take a walk, play a game and you don’t really want to do it, do it to express kindness
- Bring them a tissue when they are crying or sick (this is a small act of kindness but when you are not feeling well or sad a tissue is very important)
- Bring them chocolate kisses (or give them a kiss)
- Remove the snow from their car or fill up their car with gas so they don’t have to be outside in the cold
- If they’re sick with COVID or another illness, make soup or another comfort food or bring water, medicine or something else they need or want
- Write a love letter
- Clean the house, do the laundry or some other chore
- Plan a surprise getaway (if they like surprises)
- Buy a gift card to their favorite store
- Bring them a drink or something to eat
- Give them a massage
- Share a funny joke
- Play their favorite game
- Go to a sporting event, concert or movie of their choice (and have a positive attitude)
- Even if you don’t want to go to bed just yet, give them a hug, kiss and tuck them in bed
- Read them poetry or their favorite book
- Tell them, “I love you,” or say something loving
- Do the dishes without being asked
- Put the kids to bed
- Remember small things that are important to them
- Allow your partner to “win” the argument
Be creative and find ways to be kind.
What Is More Important: Being Right or Being Kind?
You may like to be right (we all do), but how does being right trump being kind to your spouse? It doesn’t. Usually, if you focus on being right, then that means your partner has to be wrong.
This scenario leads to a lose-lose situation in your relationship. Therefore, you may want to think about how you can be kind in this situation and consider the reasons why kindness is important in this situation.
A valuable aspect of any secure and healthy relationship is kindness. When you learn ways to increase your level of kindness, your relationship will improve. Take five minutes a day to perform a kindness that will be meaningful to your partner.
*I’m not discussing relationships which are abusive, manipulative, toxic or include significant personality disorder.
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Vermont and Florida. She also works with international couples and expats. With her support, you can learn how to reduce stress and conflict in your relationship through an intensive marriage retreat or couples counseling. Reach out to Lisa for a 20-minute free private consultation today.