Extra Virgin :: Kindness
What the most important component of a happy marriage? Good communication? Sacrifice? A healthy sex life? In an interview with John Gottman—one of the leading experts of healthy marriages—the conclusion totally surprised me ::
Research…has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.
This made me think of how, even though I think of Logan as my best friend, sometimes I don’t treat him with the courtesy and kindness that I treat my girlfriends. For example, when I disagree with a girlfriend (even one I’m very close to), I am still very careful with my words, hoping to see things from her perspective and not drive her away. But in my disagreements with Logan, my words are much more unfiltered, and I take for granted that he’s stuck with me by asserting my own feelings and desires at the expense of courtesy and kindness.
Another marriage expert, Dr. Douglas Rosenau, often gives his clients this one simple piece of homework: spend the next week being nice to your spouse. He says his clients are often surprised by this, totally underestimating the power of kindness to heal and nurture broken relationships.
It struck me how very effective this simple advice could be for a couple. What better way to create a safe, open and loving environment that by being kind to one another?
The interview with John Gottman goes on to list several vital ways to bring kindness into your relationship. I highly recommend reading it!
What about you? What are some ways to show kindness to your husband? How to you find kindness to be a key factor in the success of your marriage? When is kindness most challenging?
(Photo by Rob Bye)