Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

Photo: Ebby May / Getty Images

Photo: Ebby May / Getty Images

It comes as no surprise that kindness is good for you and good for your marriage! Research has found that “for every negative thing you do, there must be five positive things that balance it out.” (Susan Boon, PhD) The more couples learn to make good deposits into each others lives, the healthier and more satisfying the marriage will be. If we simply practiced kindness with our spouse on a daily or even moment-by-moment basis, the effects and benefits would be dramatic.

The Challenge of Kindness

Our natural and sinful tendencies toward selfishness and laziness can create a drift away from what our spouse needs. In addition, we may come from a family of origin where we didn’t see kindness modeled.

  • Conversations took place that had little or no filter
  • Parents fought until divorce ensued
  • Betrayal broke the marital covenant
  • Nit-picking and sarcasm dripped off the wall of the home
  • Alcohol or drugs created an unsafe and unkind environment.
  • Can you relate to any of this from your past?

The Opportunity for Change

Thankfully, we are not imprisoned to our past nor to our sinful inclinations! When a person accepts Christ in their life, God places His Spirit within them. As the Apostle Paul writes, “…he is a new creation. The old has passed away….” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Through the power of God’s Spirit within us and our cooperation with Him, we can infuse our marriage with kindness. In fact, it’s one of the evidences—or fruit—of His work within us.

Perhaps you’re in a difficult marriage. Or maybe you simply know that you need to be more active in kindness toward your spouse. Either way, begin each day with the conscious choice to participate with the Holy Spirit toward God-empowered kindness. Put up a notecard or a reminder to begin the day with a simple prayer like: “God, I want your kindness to shine through me today. Guide me by your Spirit to actively be kind to my spouse.”

How Kindness Shows Up

Watch how God answers your prayers! You will see yourself:

  • Change your tone of voice to being softer and more gentle
  • Notice needs and offering to assist your spouse
  • Choose NOT to say unnecessary criticisms
  • Listen more attentively
  • Choose forgiveness
  • Do things simply to bless your spouse
  • Wisely decide which conflict needs addressing (or dropping) and how to do so thoughtfully

Some Additional Benefits to Kindness

David R. Hamilton, PhD, wrote an article on the “5 Beneficial Side Effects of Kindness” In his article he says that the brain gets a “helpers high” by increased levels of dopamine in the brain when we show kindness.

Kindness gives us emotional warmth that produces oxytocin. This triggers a physical reaction that reduces stress, lowers the blood pressure and protects the heart. There’s even research showing that kindness slows the aging process!

The greatest benefit of all is that your marriage reflects Christ’s relationship with the Church to a watching world. When those close to you see Jesus in your marriage, they will be attracted to Him as a result.

So how will you practice kindness to your spouse this week? Start now and watch kindness build your marriage!