Just as I was about to start typing, I chuckled at myself. When have I ever started a blog quoting an article from a magazine like "Business Insider"? Even still, I'm doing it! So, here ya go...
I've recently been impacted by a Business Insider article that I found via facebook. The article was written by Emily Esfahani Smith and is entitled "Science Says Lasting Marriages Come Down to 2 Basic Traits".
Like the title, the article is super long but she basically summarizes the findings of a series of experiments preformed by psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson at the University of Washington.
I'll summarize her summary for you here in one sentence: Kindness and generosity differentiate the "Masters" from the "Disasters" and are imperative to a healthy and long-lasting marriage.
So, choose to be kind and generous with your spouse, willing to turn toward him at every opportunity. Partner together, pursue each other and believe the best about each other.
A few sentences from the article that I thought were especially good:
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”
Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.
If there is one thing that I want my children to remember about me, it is that I valued, practiced and modeled kindness.
Towards their father, as a loving, nourishing and generous helpmate.
Towards each of my daughters, as a nurturing, gracious shepherdess of their souls.
Towards my friends, as a faithful and trustworthy companion.
Towards strangers, as a fellow journeyman and citizen of the world.
In every arena, I know that kindness matters. And isn't it interesting when "science" catches up to what God has already made clear in His Word?
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Psalm 15:1
"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." - Proverbs 16:24
"She opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness." - Proverbs 13:26
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." - Colossians 3:12
Ephesians 2:7 goes so far as to say that the very manifestation of God's grace towards us IS His KINDNESS! And that His plan for ages and ages to come is to show us His grace through His kindness as we dwell together in heavenly places! And, to that, I say YES! Amen! Count me in!!
Even as I cheer and champion the kindness of God towards us, I simultaneously FEEL how deeply undeserving I am of that kindness. He has done everything to rescue me and I have scorned Him so many times. Even so... "the loving kindness of the Lord never fails".
I am undeserving and yet He is abundantly kind toward me.
Therefore... I am never more like Jesus than when I pour out kindness on those whom I may determine not to "deserve" it. When Trevor hurts my feelings. When my children are selfish and fussy toward each other. When I don't agree with my friends. When I see a stranger who seems to have brought misfortune on himself.
Kindness, generosity, compassion. Every part of our lives will be richer if we'll practice these things, especially when it's difficult to do so. The great news is that the Bible tells us we have ALL we need for life and godliness. Friends, let us lean into the goodness and kindness of Jesus in order to pour OUT His goodness and kindness on others. In doing so, we'll become more like Jesus, we'll glorify Him and the grace He so richly pours out and we'll leave the kind of legacy that will impact generations to come.
And, as Gottman and Levenson confirmed, we're far more likely to have fun, fulfilling, life-giving marriages.
And that is something worth cheering about.
And that is something worth cheering about.