Every religion teaches compassion for our brethren; in essence, to ‘love thy neighbor’. We extoll respect and kindness to our kids in school starting as early as pre-school. And yet sometimes this simple precept can be the hardest to follow with those whom we love in our own homes.
It can simply be a habit of behavior, where over time, we let our frustrations and impatience flow over our family members. It may have been what we witnessed in our own homes growing up.
And it’s a habit we ideally need to gain control over.
Kindness is the glue in a harmonious relationship.
An Atlantic Magazine article highlighted John Gottman’s four decades of research on marital stability. Let’s boil these six pages down to its essence.
- Kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a committed relationship (along with emotional stability).
- Kindness is something one can practice and improve, like working a set of muscles, to keep them strong and flexible.
- Practice scanning the environment for what your beloved is doing right. Be mindful for over-emphasizing, or focusing on, what they are doing ‘wrong’.
- Contempt, or criticism, destroys closeness and safety, and ultimately, will over time erode our love for one another.
It isn’t difficult, but it does require choice, commitment and perseverance to create a new habit of engaging.
Make a commitment to keep an appreciation or gratitude journal for thirty days. You’ll be amazed at where that will take you, and the benefit it will bring to your love relationship.