Just be kind.
Why is that so hard?
It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage. I introduce a topic, and then marriage bloggers can link up their own marriage posts in the linky below.
And it’s launch week for my new book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage! I’m going to do some chat sessions on Facebook (if I can figure out how)!, some flash giveaways, and more. So stay tuned! And thanks for all who bought my book on launch day. It made such a difference ( more on that below).
But today I want to talk about something basic: just be kind.
Let’s start by looking at a real life example. Excuse me for verging on the political, but I want to use an example everyone’s talking about.
Everyone loves to beat up on Hillary Clinton these days. Whether it’s Democrats hoping that someone else will get into the race or Republicans hoping that someone won’t, she’s everybody’s punching bag.
Regardless of how you feel about Ms. Clinton, I think we can all agree on one thing: setting up a personal email server was a really stupid thing to do. I’m not talking about whether she was deliberately hiding classified material or not or whether she lied or not. That’s not the relevant issue today. The point is she knew you weren’t supposed to use a personal server; she sent out memos to her department warning them not to use personal emails. She knew about the requirement to preserve emails. But she did it anyway–likely because she didn’t want to give political foes ammunition in future campaigns. And she figured she could get away with it.
She figured the rules didn’t apply to her.
It’s easy to laugh at her, and to criticize her, and even to take glee in these proceedings (if you’re of a certain political persuasion). But how often do we do the same thing?
We figure the rules don’t apply to us when it comes to marriage.
Ms. Clinton knew what she was supposed to do, but she was focused on a goal: getting elected. And that took precedence. But others in her department didn’t have her justification–and so they had to abide by the rules.
Now, let’s think about marriage for a moment. We have a goal–having a happy marriage. We think we deserve it. We think we were promised it. We think we’re due.
And so when our husbands do things that prevent us from having that great marriage, we feel justified in being heartbroken, and angry, and sullen. We pray that God will change his heart. We pray that our husband will love us.
And those are all good things.
But do we remember a simple truth:
My husband is my neighbor. And that means I’m supposed to be kind to him.
That’s Thought #1 in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage because it sets us up for everything else.
I believe that it is much easier to be kind to strangers than it is to be kind to those closest to us.
Do this thought experiment: which is it easier to give money to? A campaign to feed desperate people in Africa, or a campaign to feed the homeless in your city? Likely the one in Africa, because you see them as Hungry People in the abstract. With the homeless in your city, on the other hand, you think of all the reasons that they may have to be homeless, and you start to wonder if feeding them is the right thing to do (I’m not ignoring the fact that there may be some truth to that; I’m just making a point).
Similarly, how often do we step into church or step into the workplace and bring someone a coffee, or give someone some encouragement or a compliment, just to be nice? We do it because they are Nice People We Sometimes See.
But with our husbands, it can be hard to utter that compliment, because we start thinking, “I got my hair cut last week and he didn’t even notice,” or “I do so much for him and he rarely does anything for me.”
We start asking ourselves if he deserves it.
When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, I believe one of the points that he was making is that it is often easier for a stranger to show kindness (the Samaritan) than those who are closer to the person (the Levite and the priest). When we’re close to someone, we can think of all the reasons they don’t deserve it. “What did that guy do to get himself beaten up, anyway?” And then we can justify saying, “that commandment to be kind doesn’t apply to me.” It’s easy to be nice to people in the abstract. It’s much harder to be nice to people up close and personal, when we know all their faults, and we can see all the reasons why they deserve to suffer through this mess.
How could our marriages be transformed if we all remembered to just be kind?
Just be his neighbor! Don’t ask whether he deserves it. Don’t ask whether he’s doing the same thing to you. Just show kindness!
But what about the fact that he never wants to spend any time with me? What about the fact that he still uses porn? What about the fact that he doesn’t show me he loves me? Doesn’t that matter?
Yep. It really does.
But those things are so much easier to deal with if we get our own attitudes in check first–and if we start laying a groundwork of kindness.
That’s why Thought #1 that can change your marriage in my book is that simple one:
My husband is my neighbor.
Treat him like it. Just be kind. And then there are other thoughts that come later in the book to help you deal with the porn, and the fact that you’re feeling distant. We’ll talk about how to be a peacemaker and not a peacekeeper. We’ll talk about how to fight against the drift in marriage. We’ll talk about how to be good.
But for now, show him kindness. It really can make all the difference in the world!