“Half of our mistakes in life arise from feeling where we ought to think … And thinking where we ought to feel.” So said a wise man. Are you happy to see your spouse at the end of each day? This is a simple question which gives a pretty good estimate on the health of your marriage. Let me explain how emotions relate to the success and happiness of your marriage long term.
There might have been times when you felt sad, angry, anxious; you wished you were happy all the time. But all feelings have a purpose. Without the emotion of sadness, you won’t hold the hand of a dear friend who had just lost a father. Without anger, you won’t spend two hours concocting a strong-worded letter to a construction company which dumps rubbish nearby.
Now, let’s talk about kindness. Simple acts of kindness affect feelings. A simple way to understand the impact of kindness on the way you and your spouse feel towards each other is to think in terms of keeping money in the bank. In a bank, each time you withdraw money, your balance drops. Each time you deposit money, your balance grows.
Likewise in a marriage, each time you do something kind that is appreciated by your spouse, your account with him or her grows. Making them a favourite drink, giving a hug, touching in a loving way, listening, smiling, acknowledging a good deed they do – simple acts of kindness like these are examples of making deposits in your love bank account with your spouse. They fulfill your spouse’s need at some level. The more you do them, the bigger the balance you have.
On the contrary, doing unkind things that hurt them – uttering rude words, not bothering to look up and listen when they have something truly important to share with you, leaving them in the dark on matters that concern both of you, making snide remarks about their family when you know your spouse holds them dear in his or her heart, putting them down in front of others – is akin to withdrawing your love bank account. Each time you do any of these things, your balance drops. The metaphor of deposits and withdrawals from a bank is something practically anyone can visualise and understand easily.
What happens to couples who have slipped over the years from being truly loving and kind to each other to being tardy and uncaring to one another? One can safely assume that, over time, they have made withdrawal after withdrawal to the point that their balance is negative. One may call this relationship “bankrupt”, when there is simply nothing left in the balance.
The best, safest trick to grow your balance over time is to be proactive. Every day, make it a point to ask yourself how you can perform simple acts of kindness for your spouse. It isn’t wise to make one withdrawal after another by throwing sarcastic remarks, ignoring your spouse, sending cynical or subtle messages that you are more important than them or you are contributing more to the family than your spouse. If you are not happy about something that your spouse does, be specific, sort it out and move on.
Thinking that you are going to make it all up with one big deposit is not a smart idea. So often, we get caught up with life that that deposit might never happen. Before you know it, the balance in your account is over and out. Look out for tell-tale signs that might indicate the size of your balance. If your spouse seems to be avoiding you or doesn’t seem to be as warm as they used to be, be honest with yourself. Have you been taking them for granted? Is there something you can do to pep them up? A foot massage perhaps? Or a simple love note? How about picking up clothes from the laundry? These are simple actions that send the powerful message “I care for you and I love you.”
Excerpt from “The Kindness Miracle”. Other books by Jamilah Samian: “Cool Mum Super Dad”, “Cool Boys Super Sons”, “Parenting Generation Y&Z”, “Leadership in Parenting”, and “77 Power Parent Tips”.
Image: Gerhard Bögner