A month or so ago my husband and I realized that we were no longer nice to one another.
We still had a busy bedroom (thank goodness!), we coordinated our children fairly well, we talked, we shared time, and we completed projects together. But we weren’t very nice. We both admitted to it, like it was some agreement that our evil sides had made. We weren’t abusing each other, nor ignoring each other, but we would sometimes just walk down the hallway and not even look at each other–ouch!
Being nice wasn’t coming easily to us or even coming naturally to us on a regular basis. It had been a few months of not being consistently thoughtful or kind, on both ends. It was so easy to stay in the cycle, like it was easier to be grumpy, demanding, etc. I couldn’t believe it when I reflected on it that we both were guilty for too long and my it was a vicious cycle to be in!
We decided we didn’t want that! We already knew it but it was actually really easy to fall into this rut and not be kind. I don’t think it has ever happened for this long of a time but I’m so glad we figured it out and have focused in on it. We all have our off moments or days even but time can get away from us when there are other places for energies to go.
My husband and I have been together for 16 years, and we were dating when I turned 16. We have had smooth times and bumpy times, and literally grown up and with each other. We are best friends and lovers, partners and supporters. Relationship tune ups are crucial, and this was one of our better ones!
Here are a few things we have learned along our quest to be kind. I am in no way an expert on the topic of being kind, but these are some tools that have helped us and that we continue to use as a guide in successful communication and being kind.
Tips for Kindness when Communicating (aka how to interact with each other without getting mad!)
- Figure out what repeat arguments you have had and discuss why they keep coming up. People are truly so different, and explaining why certain things are important to you can help your partner understand. Give them a window into your heart and mind. This is especially important for the quieter partner to attempt. Change is hard. People can change if they really want to, or they can at least humor other people that are important to them.
- If you are having a hard time understanding each other, use analogies. It may help your partner realize the severity of something even if it sounds ridiculous!
- Take a breath and smile if you feel annoyed. I really think we can be kind and still have serious conversations but so much of unkind behavior is from acting on impulse. Taking a breath slows us down, calms the heart rate, and literally relaxes us. If that is enough, that is fine, but smiling next can really combat a case of the “BUT! YOU DID WHAT!?” Don’t be a pushover, but if your body and breath are calm you will react much more like you want to react.
- Be an example. Speak the way you would like your children to speak. This is obvious with foul language and using manners, but listen to yourself sometimes. Yikes I can sound like a goose honking orders or a PMSing tween in the drop of a hat.
- When in doubt, just be nice. It shouldn’t feel forced. You love this person, right? It isn’t that all that simple all the time, but let’s make it be that simple most of the time! Partners should be the soft pillow that we land on, and not the prickly cactus we brush up against by accident.
Since we have decided to make an effort to change our energies a few weeks ago there has really only been one time where we were in conflict. I am not stuffing down any emotions or thoughts for a later day, but always bringing things up when they occur, from a neutral nice state. This has been working. We are undoing our bad habits and replacing with new ones, nicer ones. It feels great and was as simple as verbalizing our plan and moving forward together. I can get used to this!