The I Do Chronicles {Part 6}: The Kindness Effect

Hey guys! Welcome to Part 6 of…

I do chronicle

If you’d like to see other posts in the I Do Chronicles, you can here.

Y’all have heard of the butterfly effect, right? About how a butterfly can flap its wings in Arizona and end up causing a tsunami in Japan? Or…something like that.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is something we can all do, starting right this second, that will have just as powerful a ripple effect in our marriages.

For lack of a better term, I’m calling it the kindness effect.

I’ve seen it over and over again, but I’m all too quick to forget how amazing it is. Which is a real shame because it blesses my marriage so much every time I do remember.

Let me explain…

Last week, Shaun turned 35. His birthday was on a Saturday so I got the brilliant idea that I would do something special for him each day of his “birthday week.”

Day 1 was a mug of ho-cho with homemade whipped cream and a (hilariously large) tag with a love note.

hocho

Day 2 was a special (but quick and easy) lunch.

Day 3 were those Levain Bakery Knockoff Cookies.

I honestly can’t really even remember Days 4 and 5 (although I’m sure they were food related; you’ve heard about men and the way to their hearts, yes?).

Day 5 was his favorite crusted steaks (which he requests for any special occasion) and the Pioneer Woman’s blackberry cobbler (so easy and soooooooooo good!) + Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Day 6 (his actual birthday) was a continuation of the food theme with leftover cobbler and a rosemary + veggie frittata (I used this recipe as my base but mostly just made it up as I went) for breakfast.

frittata

Did you notice what else was in that picture, though?

Yup, tulips.

And, no, I didn’t buy those for him. Because you can’t eat tulips (duh).

He had brought them home as a surprise at lunchtime the day before, along with an ice cold Diet DP (not my proudest moment to admit that I like/drink them, but I do…although, we are both swearing off sodas until Easter, so I guess I don’t anymore).

Not only that, but he had surprised me with a fun new game as a present a couple of days before that. (Anybody want to come play Hollywood Game Night with us?)

I don’t want to take credit where it isn’t due, but the best I could tell, even though it wasn’t my birthday week, he was responding to my efforts to make him feel special by doing the same for me.

Regardless of the reason for his efforts, I do know this: kindness begets kindness.

I definitely found this to be true the last time I did The 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge. Each time I complimented and built him up, he returned the favor, even if only by being in an exceptionally great mood for the rest of the day.

Last night, I came home to dinner on the table, a completely picked up house, a clean kitchen, and a load of laundry running, after the kids and I had left things less than super-tidy as we ran out the door for my class at the gym.

I had been dreading diving into the laundry pile and sweeping again at 8 PM. So to come home to a neat house was…heavenly.

So, this morning, I made him a breakfast sandwich as a thank you. I make them often, but I was feeling pretty bleary-eyed and unmotivated to cook after Nola woke me up at 6 (after I’d fed the baby at 4:30).  Still, I wanted him to know how much I appreciated his efforts from the night before, so I started scrambling eggs and cooking bacon all the same.

The way his eyes lit up when I brought it to him in his office made the (admittedly small) effort more than worth it.

See? Kindness begets more kindness.

Not only that, but kindness to your spouse is a surefire way of preaching the gospel. And not just to him.

You know that hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love?”

I think we often assume that means our love for the world. But the inspiration for that hymn is John 13:35, in which Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

After all, why would a non-Christian believe for a second that our love for them is genuine if we aren’t kind to our own husbands?

I work with a teacher at the gym–we’ll call her Cindy–who, as far as I can tell, has a fabulous relationship with her husband. He comes to class with her sometimes, and all you have to do is watch them for five minutes to see that they not only love each other but they genuinely like each other too. It’s pretty rad.

The other day, all of our BODYPUMP instructors were practicing for a “launch” (when we teach new music and choreography together), and one of the instructors suddenly said in a scandalized voice as she was starting the music on Cindy’s phone: “Is this a picture of your husband’s abs??”

Cindy was mortified. But I love what she said: “Man! I didn’t think about anyone else seeing it. But here’s the thing. I like my husband. And I like my husband’s abs. And I don’t look at other men. I’m only interested in him. So, I put a picture of him on my phone.”

So, there you go. No wonder they have 4 kids. ;)

I didn’t think she had anything to be embarrassed about. In fact, I thought it was all kinds of awesome. Her admiration/appreciation for her own husband were a kindness to him, a testimony of their love, and a huge encouragement to me to appreciate and celebrate my own husband more.

And I guarantee you I’m not the only who’s noticed.

Matthew 5:16 says: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I want that kind of marriage. The kind that shines so brightly that others praise God because of it.

I want to be the kind of wife who “does him good and not harm all the days of her life.”

Of course, it won’t happen by accident. It takes a lot more intentionality than I’m really keen to part with most days, if I’m completely honest. And yet, it’s so, so worth it when I do.

The thing is, I know not all of us have husbands who make being kind to them easy. And I’m definitely not advocating acts of kindness with the expectation of receiving kindness in return.

And yet. In combination with fervent prayer, I firmly believe it will come. Not necessarily quickly or in the form of gifts or acts of service (although All The Praise Hands for those for sure). Maybe it will be in the softening of a heart. In the subtle changing of an attitude. In the reciprocation of affection. In a gentler word than usual.

Note: I believe there are situations when people are so willfully degenerate that they have hardened their hearts to the effect of kindness. I still believe it can produce “better” behavior on their part (at least temporarily) but probably not true and lasting kindness in return. I still advocate pursuing kindness as far it concerns you, since only God may ever know the effect it worked on their hearts.

Because no matter how seemingly insignificant the effect, it’s better than none at all, right?

Anybody else willing to join me with practicing the kindness effect during this month of love?

I’ll have a few more practical suggestions (that don’t all come from me) next week, but I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

11 thoughts on “The I Do Chronicles {Part 6}: The Kindness Effect

  1. Promise me that after your husband is done reading The Love Dare and you begin reading it, that you come back and read this blog entry. I’d love to hear if your notice anything different about this post after you read the book. (P.S. – After reading your posts from last week I checked out the book from the library and it has made my already wonderful marriage of 15 years (+ 7 years of dating) even more wonderful. :) Happy Valentine’s Day!

  2. This is exactly what I needed to read today. My baby woke me up super early (as she has been all week because shes teething) and as I sat here looking around at how the house is a disaster and she is screaming and I’m exhausted and the list of things to do is a mile long and where is my Husband? Asleep, sleeping in! I was so annoyed but after reading this I was reminded that my Husband works hard, he works two jobs and Hes taking classes as well. He deserves to sleep in a bit and I need to be not so negative and more kind. I can’t expect spontaneous nice things and help from him if all I do is show anger instead of love and kindness.

    I think I need to whip out some of that cooking kindness you talked about ;)

    1. Tabytha, I can totally relate. Even when our hubbies work hard for us, it’s hard not to feel exhausted and want extra help sometimes, huh? Good for you for changing your attitude, though! God is faithful to help us when we ask!

  3. Thanks for the encouragement and challenge. My husband and I are going on five years and really do have a great relationship. We were friends for years, then dated for several years, and we really are best friends :) We had our first sweet baby 4 months ago, and due to a number of circumstances, I had to go back to work when he was 6 weeks old. All I’ve ever wanted is to be a stay at home mom, so this has been quite a learning experience for me (in eating my words, letting things go, relying on Jesus more then ever…). Anyway, long story short, I feel like I have a shorter fuse these days and find it much easier to get annoyed with the hubs, or feel bitter towards him for all sorts of little things. I’ve really felt convicted to pray about these things instead of attack or nag him, and let God work in his heart to change him, if needed. (More likely He will change me, as the saying goes…) So I appreciate your reminder to be kind to my husband, too. I think that will really help to shift my focus. Thanks! (Btw, I’ve been following your blog for awhile. Found it through a link on another blog. First time commenting, though :) )

    1. “More likely he will change me…” those are wise words, lady. I’m glad the reminder helped, but it sounds like God’s already working in your heart. That’s awesome! And thanks for commenting! I love hearing from y’all!

  4. What a great reminder. Especially 5 minutes after I snapped at my husband for trying to help with our crying teething baby. I hate being that wife. So yes, this month I am going to make a huge effort to be more intentionally kind to my husband. Because he really is my best friend! Thank you for the reminder. It broke right through my sleep deprivation fog

  5. This is so very true! I really needed this reminder. Loved reading your testimony and the comment by your friend at the gym. Right on!!
    I’m going to try this with the hubby…..more servant hearted & less about me!! I wish I could remember this all the time!

    1. I certainly don’t all the time, that’s for sure. Sad that it takes a birthday to get me refocused. But hey! Whatever it takes, I’m grateful when I do remember!

  6. Love this Abby! My husband is my best friend, we celebrated 12 years married on Sunday! It wasn’t always this way but The Lord continues to bless us! 5 kids and 12 years later we are better than ever only because of His grace. It does take effort and being intentional though.

I love comments so much I'd actually consider making them my seventh kid if I could. Seriously. Love. And I read every single one and will do my darndest to respond, especially if you have a question. So, yeah. Comment away! I'm listening!