It is often difficult to pinpoint just what makes a relationship work. Sometimes my husband of thirty-nine years still drives me crazy! You know the reasons ladies- doesn’t pick up his socks, didn’t hear a word I just said, forgets to take out the trash, totally ignores my nagging about changing his ways. Little things to be sure… but sometimes we let those little annoyances get in the way of truly appreciating our spouses.
Yesterday I was reminded once again of one of the major reasons why my husband is worth keeping- he is kind and thoughtful. He brought home six crape myrtles for me and even dug the holes and helped plant them. Last week he mowed a path to the pond because he knows the tall grass makes me fearful of snakes. He recently bought me a new bird field guide because he knows I’ve been less than happy with my old one. He’s always concerned about my health and welfare. He doesn’t laugh at my phobias. It is his random acts of kindness that endear him to me, not his obedience to my requests. (Though if you are reading this honey, I still want you to take out the trash.)
And his kindness makes me want to reciprocate. I think that is why kindness is a good foundation for any relationship. “Do unto others…” When we treat others with kindness, even though we don’t agree with them or understand their actions, we create an environment of consideration and respect that allows our relationship to develop to its full potential. And kindness benefits us even if it isn’t returned. I’ve never felt remorse later about being kind!
People are often surprised by acts of kindness in these days of selfish gratification and stressful urgency. Last week when I got into the checkout line at WalMart it became obvious that the woman in back of me and the woman in front of me were mother and daughter, and though they had been shopping together, the mother had gotten behind when she stopped to purchase a toy for her granddaughter. I turned to the mother and asked her if she wanted to go ahead of me so they could check out together. She was thrilled, and thanked me profusely, then thanked me again when she finished checking out, then waved as she left. It only seemed like the “right thing to do”, but she was obviously very surprised and pleased by my action.
We have countless opportunities each day to be kind to others- to our spouses, children, parents, friends, colleagues. Kindness may not always be our first thought. It may not even be easy at first. But when we start treating others with kindness instead of mistrust or criticism or impatience, it becomes a habit that develops both our relationships and our soul.
Try just one little act of kindness today.