The Gift of Kindness

"Be kind and compassionate to one another..."--Ephesians 4:32a Does your day look like mine? You wake up, get going with your routine, take care of the kids, breakfast, etc. Your husband does the same. You start the day, going on your own merry way, and he goes on his. Sometimes you have dinner together, sometimes not. It depends on what else is going on with your lives that evening. After dinner, there are baths, storytime, or homework to supervise. When the kids get in bed, there is the mad rush to try to squeeze in all you can before it's time to go to bed. The next day, you do it all over again.

I'm assuming that it's more typical than we care to admit. They're not bad things we're doing. We're busy taking care of our responsibilities. Unfortunately, though, too much of this in a marriage is not a good thing. Heidi St. John, in her book, The Busy Homeschooler's Mom Guide to Romance, calls this "parallel living." Basically, it means you do your thing while he does his. Your relationship isn't going downhill, but it's not going anywhere either.

One of the responsibilities of a wife is to be a husband's support system as he leads the family. This doesn't mean that we are the servile assistant, although it may mean that we sometimes do things that are not very glamorous. It is about doing what I can to help my husband do what he is called to do, which is to lead.

I don't know about you, but I have plenty that I want or need to accomplish every day. There are kids to take care of, schoolwork, chores and housecleaning, meals, laundry. I feel completely justified to let my husband take care of himself. After all, he's an adult, right? But that is not the way it is meant to be. We are one flesh. I need to take care of him. When I do so, I am taking care of myself too. When our marriage is strong, we can not just survive, but thrive---together.

So here's a challenge for us: What is one thing we can do to serve our husbands? Some days, it may simply be welcoming him home when he comes in the door after a long day, acknowledging and welcoming his presence. Easy as that may sound, this is very hard for me to do. Usually I am busy working on the computer and it's hard to tear away. But what does this say to my husband? That what is on my screen is more important than him?

Another idea may be to find his "love language" and seek to do one thing for him each week. This could be picking up his dry cleaning for him if he appreciates acts of service. It could be taking five minutes to ask, "How was your day?" and really listen, instead of launching into a list of catastrophes you've had to deal with. It could be a gift of his favorite dessert waiting for him after dinner (make sure the kids are in bed so they don't eat half of it!). Maybe it's a thoughtful word or comment about something you see him growing in. How long does that take? All of 10 seconds? How about a simple"thank you" for something that he does faithfully? That's a novel idea! Sometimes, he could just use a massage or hug (or more?). Whatever it is, we can find a way to connect with our husbands so that our paths can converge, not run parallel.

I have found that it is easy to slip into thinking of my husband as the one who will help me out with the kids instead of the one that I have pledged to help and support. Maybe your marriage is in such a state that you don't think he deserves any help. That is not for us to judge. Perhaps there is a need for outside counseling, but we don't have to wait till he has shaped up before we start pouring on kindness. There is no sin in being kind. There is sin in withholding it when we can give it.

My dear friends, as women, we can either build up our house or tear it down (Prov. 14:1). We can build up our husbands with kindness or we can tear them down, if not with our words, with our neglect. Our marriages can be destroyed simply be erosion. It doesn't need to take a catastrophe. What will you and I do today?

Time to stop now. Someone's coming home!