A culture of kindness? Robert and I were talking about the “Love” verses from 1Corinthians 13. He made an interesting comment on how we push the two phrases, “love is patient, love is kind” together. And then we don’t ever pull them apart. Their individual meaning becomes lost because it’s a package deal.
Having patience is one way to show kindness. That’s true. (Click here for the post on patience.) But to truly squeeze all the juice from these verses, we need to unpack them.
Love is kind.
Friendly, generous, warm-hearted, tolerant, agreeable; these are all words associated with and used to describe being kind. All these sound like a grouping of behaviors and attitudes which would add positively to a relationship.
When is it important to be kind? Is it a one-time action that can be noted and celebrated? Or perhaps being kind needs to be less of an event, and more of a way of living.
A Culture of Kindness
The definition of culture can be summed up as “the behaviors, values, and beliefs characteristic of a particular group“. Values and beliefs are two powerful tools when developing a culture.
We often just accept the values of our parents or the popular beliefs in our circle of friends. Our marriage and family culture become a reactive expression of what is around us. Think of the television programs we watch – have any of the expressions or nuances entered your family?
(Robert and I enjoy watching the TV show Big Bang Theory – we laugh at those “Sheldon” moments of utter self-centered-ness. Right now, as I’m writing, it makes me wonder if we are more – or less – aware of our own selfish moments because of ingesting this popular show… )
Have you defined your values as a couple? Do you share the same beliefs? Are you deliberate about what you’ve decided your family atmosphere could be like?
What would it look like if you added kindness to the culture of your marriage and family?
Kindness in Action
We are usually kind to strangers. There’s no skin-in-the-game with a stranger.
Simple politeness – please and thank-you – demonstrates basic kindness. This is stuff we share with most people, and it’s been a skill we’ve sought to teach our children. I imagine you practice simple politeness with your spouse, don’t you? Holding the door open when they’re carrying something heavy – greeting your spouse when he or she arrives home – a smile – excusing yourself for burping… 😉
But let’s take it a step further. Kindness is shown through thoughtfulness and a focus on the other person’s needs and desires. That’s the beginning of a culture of kindness in marriage.
At the beginning of a relationship, it’s easy to hone this skill because we’re naturally wired to respond with grace to a new interest. Watch a newly engaged couple and you’ll quickly see the meeting of their eyes to confirm agreement, or how swiftly one moves to help the other in the most mundane of ways. It’s an attention to details just to stay connected.
But what happens after a number of years? The “woulda-shoulda-coulda” refrain creeps into our heads and leaks out of our mouths.
- “Well – she coulda helped me on the weekend.”
- “I woulda been available if only he’d asked.”
- “He shoulda known what I needed, ‘cause I’ve been tellin’ him all these years.”
What’s missing from these statements?
A focus on the other person’s needs and desires. A culture of kindness is missing.
Kindness, like patience, is NOT about you.
“Love is not affectionate feeling,
but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good
as far as it can be obtained.”
~ C.S. Lewis
Showing kindness might be called Agape love – what do you think?
Unconditional love – kindness without condition.
Kindness with no Conditions – A culture of Kindness
What would kindness without condition look like in a marriage?
- smiling at your spouse – even if you don’t feel like it
- offering to serve your spouse – to meet a need – even if you haven’t been served
- giving your best to your spouse – before anyone else
- refraining from an action because it might cause pain or concern
- remaining neutral when your spouse needs a sounding board, even if you have an opinion
There are more ways to be kind, I’m sure.
Love is Kind
Give it some thought – do you think it’s important to have a culture of kindness in your relationship and family?
If you do, how would you foster this culture of kindness in your marriage? (After all, we stand as a living example for the generations to come… )