Everyone is looking for the secret to making their life work. Whether it’s weight loss or financial gain, we all love shortcuts and secrets. What about marriage? Are there secrets to making marriage work? What about couples who have slipped into a pattern of boredom and mediocrity? Is there a secret to rekindling the flame? I’m not sure I have the secret to cure all that ails your marriage but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a decision that virtually every married person can make. So few people do this and therefore its receives little to no attention. So, from that standpoint its definitely a secret. Frankly, it’s a secret that EVERY married person needs to know.
Here it is…kindness.
I know, it’s not real flashy is it? Kindness has a PR problem. It’s not a word that grabs you and motivates you. It doesn’t sound noble, heroic or exciting. However, the more I consider the impact of kindness, the more I believe it is the gaping hole in most marriages. Here are a few thoughts about the secret of kindness…
1. Kindness equals love.
Kindness is listed in the famous “love chapter” in the Bible found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “love is kind…” In fact, I don’t take it lightly that kindness is listed as the second quality of love out of the 16 listed in this text. The reality is, kindness is a built in part of any responsible and respectable definition of love. You may profess love but without kindness no one believes you. Kindness in marriage reveals that you have allowed your spouse to occupy your sensitivity and garner your concern and tenderness. Love is more than duty or commitment; "love is kind."
2. Kindness is private first.
We live in a world that seems to forget that some things are better if kept private. Kindness is not your opportunity to look like the hero of your marriage. The call to show kindness to your spouse is not an invitation to post an exaggerated declaration of love on social media! We’ve all seen this. Someone posts some outrageous claim regarding the near-perfection of their spouse. This often appears to be an insecure attempt to over-compensate for what is lacking in your marriage. Furthermore, it may result in people recognizing you more than your spouse feeling the blessing of genuine kindness. Your marriage needs kindness, simply start in private. Kindness in private inevitably leaks into the public eye. When it does, it appears confident, humble and genuine.
3. Kindness has good manners.
Selfishness is always sneaking into your marriage trying to uproot kindness. Selfishness will make you blind to some of the basic expressions of kindness. Simple things like saying, “Please” and “Thank you.” A danger couples face over time is taking one another for granted. Often what is lost in the years of marriage are the intentional acts and words of kindness. We rationalize with ourselves, “oh, they know my heart” or “this is just my personality.” The reality is kindness is a choice of considering your spouse as more important than yourself. This decision is what motivates those unsolicited acts of kindness that cost you little but result in big deposits in your spouse’s heart.
4. Kindness has muscle.
Kindness does not bring to mind images of strength and valor, yet, make no mistake, kindness has muscle. Kindness is strong. Kindness brings change. In Romans 2:4 the Apostle Paul challenges us with the question, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” This text reveals something that we could easily miss in a cursory reading of the text…God initiates change in people’s hearts through kindness. This is a radical thought for people who view God to be more judgmental than kind. God leverages the power of kindness to bring forth repentance in our hearts. This can be true in your marriage! The distance or pain you feel and the patterns of neglect or boredom that seem to have taken over can all be reversed through kindness.
Kindness has the strength to reopen doors of communication you thought were permanently closed.
Kindness has the strength to revive long lost intimacy.
Kindness has the strength to awaken your spouse to the memory of why you decided to love them in the first place.
Kindness has the strength to stop a divorce in its tracks and initiate reconciliation.
I hope you will take kindness seriously in your marriage. Don’t over-think this. The needed act of kindness is usually apparent if you are looking for it. I can’t guarantee kindness will make your marriage problems go away, but I can guarantee that without kindness, your marriage problems will never go away.