This post on Practicing Kindness in Relationships was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Recently, I have become interested in learning more about what makes romantic relationships last or not last. Why do some couples stay married for the entire lives and others divorce after a few years? Fortunately, there is a ton of research already out there on this topic. As such, I plan on exploring what studies have found and writing about that for the next few posts. So this will be the first post of this series on relationships and I hope you are as intrigued as I am.
Today, I want to talk about kindness. A little while ago, The Atlantic came out with an article titled “The Secret to Love is Kindness” (I highly recommend you give it a read when you have the time). While love is certainly more nuanced than that, as the article actually details, research has shown that kindness is “the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.” Okay, makes sense. Of course we should be kind to our partners if we want it to last. But what does that actually look like?
Well, kindness can come in many forms. It can come in acts of generosity or service, such as buying flowers or doing the dishes. These are certainly going to help your relationship. Or it can come in giving your partner the benefit of the doubt and viewing them more positively. For example, your partner may not be texting you back and seemingly ignoring you for some reason. While you may be quick to become annoyed with them for not responding, they may have simply gotten distracted by a friend or even been planning a date for you two. Either way, the reason why they did not answer your text was not to deliberately hurt you or ignore you. More often than not, your partner has good intentions even if their actions fall short, as the article asserts. So try to remember that the next time you find yourself upset with your other half.
The article also talks about the importance of shared joy between a couple. Research has found it critical that partners respond to each other in a positive and engaged manner, such as when one shares about something as simple as the wonderful lunch they had at work. While you did not enjoy their delicious deli sandwich with them, or even think it was all that great, try to respond in a way that encourages their joy, not kills it. Be happy that they are happy! They clearly were excited to tell you about it, and want to share and connect with you even if it is over something silly. No matter how small or big, emotional connection is crucial in relationships.
As you can see, there are various ways to be kind to your partner. I am sure you can think of countless more examples than the ones I provided. But, whatever it may look like in your relationship, be kind. In your actions, in your words, in your mannerisms, everything. Every little detail counts and will be noticed by your partner, good or bad. While I hope you are often naturally kind to those you love, sometimes it takes practice. So, I encourage you to try to be more aware of how you can show kindness to your partner and really everybody around you, because it is truly the root of loving and happy relationships.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, suggestions on topics, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you could take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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