The Importance Of Kindness In A Happy Marriage (And Even In A Breakup)

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The Importance of Kindness in Love

Kindness and respect can be nurtured in your romantic relationships at any stage.

The first line of my friend Eddie’s Facebook post hit hard: "After much soul-searching, Jim and I have decided to separate."

My heart sank. I hoped I had misunderstood what I read.

His post went on to say there was no untoward event involved in their decision; it was simply time for some space between them. Eddie made it clear they intend to remain friendly to each other and will continue to work on several social projects they are involved in producing.

It also called on friends to be supportive of both of them and to continue to be part of their lives, knowing it will be a very difficult and emotional journey for everyone involved.

We don’t often see such in-your-face honesty about the ending of a relationship. Breakups suck, regardless of the circumstances and I’m sure it won’t suck any less for Eddie and Jim.

But they’ve changed the discourse among their friends by showing respect for each other, even as they (and by extension, all their friends) deal with the emotions that come along with an ending.

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Civility of this kind doesn’t happen at the end of a relationship, for the most part. It’s built into the daily interactions and truths we tell each other over time. It’s present in the way we talk about our partners when they’re not with us. It’s void of being self-centered but is sustained with self-confidence. 

It thrives on the generosity of the spirit and withers when we short-change our partners because of the relentless procession of time.

So, how does civility in a happy marriage or relationship begin? I think it starts with you.

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Consider setting up your next interaction with your partner, spouse, or significant other before you see them. Think about the qualities that attracted you and the things about them that make you smile.

Be courteous in your conversations. Adding simple words like "please" and "thank you" infuses kindness into everyday conversation.

Express gratitude for the things your partner does to make your life together possible.

Hold hands or sit close enough for your bodies to be in contact with one another. We’ve grown so concerned about our behavior in the office that we’re starting to avoid touch at home.

Most of all, be fully present. If you have a lot of things on your mind, identify the emotion they’re raising, decide how you want to manage it, then let it be off your head for a bit of time so you can focus on the person you love.

These subtle changes don’t cost anything, but what they buy you is immeasurable — they root your interactions with respect, kindness, and gratitude.

I hope you don’t have to follow the footsteps of Eddie and Jim by announcing the end of your relationship. But I do hope you’ll use their example to infuse kindness, honor, and authenticity into the way you interact with your significant other.

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Bradley K. Ward, ACC is Principal Coach and Consultant at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

This article was originally published at The MIssion Coach Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.