Kindness in your marriage is a huge game-changer. Without it, you and your husband are miserable. With it, your marriage becomes a beautiful thing.
People perform random acts of kindness every day. The kindness might be something like paying for coffee for the next person in line, or leaving an extra big tip at a restaurant. My personal favorite was getting a $20 bill in the mail once in an unsigned card … it came at a time when I really needed just a little extra money for bills.
Usually, random acts of kindness done for – or done by – random strangers makes people feel all warm and fuzzy. Because of that, random acts of kindness are celebrated. There’s a Random Acts of Kindness Day (it’s February 17, in case you’re wondering), and a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
But in your marriage, how often do you surprise your husband with random acts of kindness? In your day to day life, how often do you stop and choose to be kind to your husband? When is kindness toward your husband not even random, but very intentional?
Taking it all for granted
Too often in my own marriage and in other marriages I see, kindness can turn into a mere afterthought. When life presses in and kids clamor for attention and when deadlines are looming, it’s easier to take marriage for granted.
And it’s easy to take your husband for granted.
Here’s a big question, though: do you like being taken for granted? Me neither. In fact, I’m pretty confident that not a single person would ever admit to wanting to be taken for granted. I’m also pretty confident that every single person wants to be valued. Appreciated. Noticed.
And marriage, of all relationships, should be the place where we value, appreciate, and need our spouses.
Unfortunately, though, I think it’s actually easy to take someone for granted. (At least it is for me.) I could easily do it with my husband, and I could do it with my kids. It takes a lot more intentionality to stop and realize what a gift I have in these relationships. And it takes even more intentionality to celebrate these relationships with kindness.
What’s in it for me?
Far too often, it’s easy to play the kindness game where you give a tit for a tat. We’ve all mentally played it before – if someone is kind to me, then I’m kind to them. Theoretically, this cycle of giving and receiving can go on and on.
But sometimes, my husband is kind to me and I don’t return his kindness. Or he’s unkind, so I think he should get back exactly what he’s given me – grumpiness for grumpiness.
I do this far too often, not just with my husband, but any relationship. But do you know how ridiculous this is? Since when should we only be kind to those who are kind to us? This is exactly what Jesus talks about in Luke 6:32-36:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Kindness doesn’t – and shouldn’t – depend on how kind someone else is to you. Especially if you’re a Christian.
While it may not always feel natural, kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. As Galatians 5:22-24 shares,
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Check out the truth tucked into verse 24 – some of those fleshly passions and desires include selfishness – like seeking your own good and comfort first. That looks a lot like seeking kindness from others first, or withholding kindness from others as a punishment.
When you walk with the Holy Spirit and live in His power and strength each day, kindness will naturally pour out of your life. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Kindness in your marriage
If you’re not used to intentionally looking for ways to be kind to your husband, it might feel like a stretch at first. Here are 3 easy ideas to get you started:
Watch what you say.
It might be a lot easier to answer with a snappy comeback – or to say exactly what you’re feeling. (After all, you should be completely honest with your husband, right??)
Start thinking before you speak, though. Before you blurt out whatever comes to mind, think about what you want to say – and then think of a kind way to say it.
Do something nice without being asked.
You might feel like you do something nice for your husband every day – if so, good for you! Keep doing this. But if you keep waiting around for your husband to do something nice first, go ahead and do something nice. Be kind – whether it’s in something you do around the house, or leaving a short and sweet love note, or by giving a compliment.
You know your husband well. (Think you don’t?? Then you need to join my 7 Days to Understanding Your Husband Better Challenge!) Give him the kindness you know he craves. And give him the kindness he deserves.
Be generous with your affection.
Another way to say this is to not be stingy with your affection. Look your husband in the eye. Smile. Hug him. Kiss him.
If you haven’t done these things very often, your husband may wonder what’s happening. And if you usually do these things, keep it up. When your affection leads to sex, thank God for that glue that keeps your marriage bonded tight.
While you could make random acts of kindness a normal part of your marriage, not-so-random acts might be even better. As you intentionally love your husband well, kindness will transform your life, his life – and your marriage.
When you show your husband kindness, you become a haven to him. And your marriage becomes a haven for both of you.
What helps you cultivate kindness in your marriage? What works well for you? What doesn’t?
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All images courtesy of Unsplash.