Being A Kinder Partner: The Benefits Of Kindness
Remember when you couldn’t wait to lavish the one you loved with a million kindnesses, big and small?
Once upon a time, the idea of being compassionate, thoughtful and self-sacrificing was not difficult. It wasn’t an imposition. It wasn’t an exercise saved just for marriage counseling sessions. Nor did kindness get constantly bogged down in criticism or judgment.
It felt good to be kind. You loved attending to your partner. Your spouse loved the attention.
So, what changed? Why has so much of your mental energy and verbal commentary shifted into negativity and nitpicking?
Maybe you believe that’s just the way it goes. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that? Or maybe you and your spouse have simply forgotten you can still choose another way.
Why Kindness Matters
Can you imagine what your relationship would look like if you actively and intentionally chose to infuse it with the loving attitudes and behaviors that bonded you in the first place?
Kindness has the power to change the course of a relationship that has become indifferent or contemptuous. You can choose to be a kinder partner. You can decide to compliment, praise or even celebrate the one you chose in the first place.
Sounds like a lot of work, you say?
At first, it may feel awkward or vulnerable because you and your spouse have been at odds. But if you want change you must persevere.
Because exercising kindness builds bonds and promotes emotional connection. Because if something so simple, being a kinder spouse, can positively change the course of your marriage isn’t it worth the effort?
Let’s take a few moments to consider the following:
The Benefits Of Being A Kinder Partner
Kindness Makes You Happier And Happiness Is Contagious.
Kindness can take many forms in your marriage.
For example, you may cook their favorite meal, walk the dog together, send random texts indicating you are thinking about them or even spontaneously hugging or kissing your spouse.
Whatever the kindness, it makes you feel good to do it. So much so, that you want to keep doing it. Thus, the more kindness you bestow, the happier you feel. And the happier you feel, the more relaxed and content your partner feels with you.
Kindness Promotes Physical Health
Kind couples are healthier couples. (See the Mayo Clinic article on kindness and health).
Why? Their relationships are less stressful, tend to be more physically active, and are often more sexually compatible and engaged.
Kindness Increases Physical Attraction.
A few years ago, a series of relationship studies by Drs. Kevin Kniffin and David Sloan Wilson, explored how and why certain personality traits affect our perceptions of physical attractiveness.
They discovered that among people who knew each other well, attraction is greatly influenced by kindness, effort, and likability, as opposed to physical attributes.
In fact, unkind people were considered distinctly unattractive and undesirable. Not the way you want your spouse to view you!
Kindness Amplifies Connection.
Kindness conveys caring. It isn’t passive or lazy. Taking the time to show you care means allowing your conversation and behavior to cultivate a tender, thoughtful, empathetic environment.
Your willingness to put your partner’s needs first communicates the kind of support most of us long for in a relationship and solidifies your bond.
Kindness Reduces Neediness And Resentment
The voluntary nature of kindness in a marriage or long term love relationship helps reduce insecurity and the neediness that comes with trying to seek reassurance.
Well-known relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman is said to predict with nearly 94 percent certainty which couples in his studies will survive and thrive. He maintains that it is all about the spirit partners bring to the table.
Are you kind and generous? Or hostile and critical?
He suggests that secure, vibrant relationships are created when each partner is secure that the other is seeking out ways to be kind, respectful, and appreciative. Kindness is then purposeful and reliable. And resentment at being ignored, neglected, or overlooked is not an issue.
Kindness Creates Positivism
Your relationship can be a sanctuary of encouragement and boosted esteem. Research on positivity and gratitude reveals that the effects of a negative interaction can be effectively reversed by intentional kindness by one relationship partner.
In essence, when your spouse recognizes your kind acts toward them, a sense of appreciation and gratitude takes hold. That grateful attitude, in turn, boosts a sense of positivity between you.
Then, praise begins to flow more easily and increases instances of public praise to others as well.
As the positive cycle continues, so does the store of goodwill in your relationship. Soon, you see a regeneration of loving interaction and intimacy.
Kindness Fosters Acceptance And Belonging.
It feels good to be sought out and drawn in. To know that someone appreciates you is gratifying. To offer this to your partner daily is a beautiful gift.
Being kind to each other doesn’t mean you won’t argue or challenge differences between you.
It does mean however, that even if you argue and disagree you will still respect and accept the other.
To sum it up, kindness is good for you.
It can soothe and smooth out rough places in your relationship. It can pave the way for contentment in ways criticism cannot.
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About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work life balance.