Hey guys! Welcome to Part 6 of…
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.
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 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.
Did you notice what else was in that picture, though?
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.