When my husband and I got together we decided to talk about what we both felt were the most important traits in someone you were about to spend your life with.
I immediately said, “a sense of humor”. And, after a little more thought, “great footwear”. I love a man in a handsome pair of shoes.
Gordon looked at me, a tad skeptical, and said, “kindness”. “I think it’s kindness, Mary.
Not as sexy as my answer….but, as the years tick by, I realize he was right.
I think of myself as a kind person. But, for me, it moves in and out of consciousness.
Kindness isn’t a trait that you either have or don’t have. Like being able to draw a bird. It’s more of a muscle that you have to exercise. Take to the gym.
And then remember to use.
The remembering is the tough part.
Sometimes we’re intentionally kind. The “random acts of kindness” thing. Leaving dollar bills tucked in the cracks of dilapidated buildings so people can find them. Paying for someone’s bagel because they don’t have cash.
But that’s not everyday.
The everyday thing is turning around and moving toward your spouse when they want to tell you something. Looking at them. Paying attention.
Leaving a pen on their desk because they can never find one. Reading a poem to them every day at five thirty. Crafting their dinner napkin into a swan.
But we forget. We’re looking inward. Figuring out what makes us happy. And when we look out, it’s often to the world at large. Friends you’ve been neglecting. Not to the sweet guy sitting at the end of the kitchen counter reading the paper in the morning.
“The Atlantic” had an article on the importance of kindness in marriage. Saying that kindness is the most important predictor of satisfaction in a marriage. The glue.
I believe that.
But remember, when we were in third grade, how the LePage got dry and stuck in the bottom of the bottle? And you couldn’t get it out of that brown rubber tip?
I think that’s what happens in relationships. We don’t use the glue enough so it gets stuck. Gums up the rubber tip.
Hide a Snickers in his shoe. Wink at him. Cha-cha together after breakfast.
Henry James said that three things in human life are important.
The first is to be kind.
The second is to be kind.
And the third is to be kind.
I guess Henry and my husband have always had this thing figured out.
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