The Secret Ingredient that Builds Relationship Health, Happiness and Longevity
Kindness is “the life” of all healthy relationships, as blood is to the health of the body. Yes, a person can develop strong muscles, cultivate beautiful hair and have the best teeth around–but without healthy blood, it is to no avail; sickness and death are within striking range! The same is true of relationship health. Kindness is needed in abundance for love and respect to flow between the two people and to prevent relationship breakup.
You want your partner to want to be with you, be close to you in all ways, eagerly await your presence–you want a healthy relationship! Then be kind to him or her; instruct your partner to be the same with you. And in so doing, you will avoid many common relationship problems.
Milton Erickson, one the greatest and most creative psychotherapists of modern times, tells the story of a sad and lonely woman that came to him for treatment. She complained she had no friends–none at all. During the interview, she told him she loved to garden. In these words, Ericson found a treatment opportunity.
He told her, “Go back home, grow some African Violets and give them out to your neighbors.” She did. As well, she answered their many questions on how to care for them.
Within a short time, she made many friends. She had merged into her community and become an active member. Erickson understood what she needed–and it wasn’t years of soul searching and time consuming therapy. What she needed, simply, was to behave kindly with others. And so she did, and so she cured her loneliness!
Kindness is as basic as crayons, dolls and Legos. I can prove it!
Let’s go back to school? I don’t mean university, not even high school–how about kindergarten? Think, what happened to children when they were mean–when they bit, hit or stole? Answer: If the offending child didn’t stop, he or she was taken out of the classroom.
That’s just how basic kindness is–it was an absolutely necessity! If you made it through grade school, you knew how to be kind; you know how to get along with others. You may have been imperfect, but you knew enough about kindness to succeed as a citizen of your school! Why should your home be any different?
You want a loving and long lasting relationship with your spouse or partner. You need to be kind to him or her. Here is what to do:
1. Acknowledge your partner when you see him or her. Use your words or body to express your love and care.
2. Talk to your partner, inquiring about his or her well being.
3. Show you care by doing favors; by giving compliments; by being appreciative whenever something is done for you–even (especially) when it is done often!
4. Be sensitive to your partner’s difficulties and when possible try to help.
5. Stay in-touch throughout the day. Send a text message; call on the phone; let him or her know you are thinking about them. What you say is not as important as your efforts to connect.
6. Speak gently, with a comforting voice. If this does not come naturally, then practice until it does.
7. Hold back criticism / anger and foster acceptance.
8. When your spouse is upset, be a warm fuzzy and not a cold prickly–even if he or she is upset about you; you are accused of being the source of many relationship problems! Don’t get angry or run off. Rather, ask the question: What can I say or do to help my partner feel better and calm down? Then do it.
The only way your partner will feel your kindness is if your behavior consistently proves it. That’s just the way it is! It is not enough for “you” to think you are kind, or to ‘tell’ your partner you are kind. As it is said, “Actions speak louder than words.”
The opportunities to behave kindly are limitless. The greater your effort, the healthier and happier your relationship will be. Kindness is the magic ingredient that will bring out the best in both of you. This is great relationships advice that will prevent many relationship problems or even total breakdown.
If you have had a kindness deficiency, then I want you to know it will take time to repair the damage and save your relationship from further injury. You can’t remodel a house in a single day. So too, you can’t immediately change around your relationship. When you make a commitment to be kind, give it time.
Be patient like a gardener watching seedlings mature. Be consistent, be determined and your kindness will prevail–your home will become one of love, care and respect.
Kindness is the one thing you can’t get rid of. Why? The more you “give-away,” the more you “get-back.” Being kind is a great investment. The dividends are certain and the gains are great–what could be better than that? So my friend–be kind.
Abe Kass, M.A., R.S.W., R.M.F.T., C.C.H., is a relationship specialist. He is a certified family therapist with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and unlike many self-help gurus, he is the real deal. Visit his website: www.GoSmartLife.com
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