Sunday, October 19, 2014

Kindness is Powerful

I have still been reflecting on the insight of the meaning of the word admonish especially as it relates to the marriage relationship. As I said in yesterday's post, the definition of admonish is friendly encouragement and so when I read in Mosiah 26:39 that God's word admonishes us, I realize that my loving Father in Heaven offers me friendly encouragement to do better. And because I want to follow His example, I too must provide that kind of kind encouragement towards others, especially my spouse.

I mentioned John Gottman's research and how he discovered four behaviors between spouses that would predict divorce. The most significant one was having and showing contempt. Contempt in particular is a potent mix of anger and disgust. Expressing contempt involves speaking to your spouse like he is “beneath” you, or mocking your partner in a cold, sarcastic way.

It is so easy to think that scolding or criticizing will help another person improve. But after years of my own research (call me a quick study), I have found it is simply counter productive.  Kindness and heartfelt understanding is powerful. It is looking beyond the behavior and realizing that the behavior in and of itself has negative consequences and is punitive--I don't need to be. It is never accepting the bad behavior nor giving up high expectations but it is remaining kind and supportive in our spouse's quest for improvement. It is realizing that if I offer contempt instead of kindness, I can do so much more damage. Maybe even more damage than the initial infraction. When they say, it isn't what happens but how we respond that matters; it is true. Respond with kindness and friendly encouragement.

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