Do you ever look at your marriage (or your spouse!) and wish things were more fun? More peaceful? Marked by less conflict? More sex? More romance? Maybe your wife doesn’t appreciate everything you do for your family, or your husband always seems withdrawn.
Or maybe it’s already a good relationship … but you want it to be great.
After a multi-year research study for my latest book, The Kindness Challenge, I’ve found that every one of us has a superpower that can transform our marriage. It is called kindness. And believe it or not, a specific way of wielding this superpower –which we call the 30-Day Kindness Challenge – changes everything.
Targeted kindness becomes a potent weapon that softens any heart.
Including our own.
Here’s what you do. For 30 days:
- Say nothing negative about your spouse—either to them or about them to someone else.
- Every day, find one thing that you can sincerely praise or affirm about your spouse and tell them, and tell someone else.
- Every day, do one small act of kindness or generosity for them.
That’s it! So simple. And yet in our research for The Kindness Challenge, 89% of relationships improved!
What does this look like in practice?
Suppose you’re a wife who is regularly driven nuts by your husband’s lax parenting. During the 30-Day Kindness Challenge, you completely resist the urge to ask “Why did you let the kids stay up so late!?”
You also completely stop yourself from venting about it with your girlfriends in your moms’ group. (This is just for thirty days, remember!)
Instead, you look for things to praise.
So, you notice that he was so sweet with your daughter who was sick. He cuddled with her on the sofa to watch TV because she was miserable and just wanted dad time. You thank him for being such a good dad – and then you tell your moms group about what he did.
You’ll be shocked at how much this opens your eyes to all those good things that were there, but you just didn’t really notice, before.
And since you’re also looking for that little act of generosity to do each day, you see those opportunities, too. For example, suppose you’re someone who’s spouse has been up working in the home office late, and not getting enough sleep. You get up a few minutes early to make coffee. Or maybe you pack them a lunch and even include a note that says “Thanks for working so hard for our family.” (There’s your words of praise for tomorrow!)
Trust me: Starting this process shows us a whole lot about what needs to change.
Not just in the other person: but in us. You will see just how negative you have been, in ways you never realized before. (In fact, you’ll find it absolutely crucial to identify your type of negativity, in order to see it when it happens and nip it in the bud! In The Kindness Challenge research we found seven distinct negativity patterns, including exasperation, overt criticism, a subtle type of suspicion and more.)
But as you continue this process, you will also see something amazing: you will see your feelings changing. You’ll start appreciating the other person more. You’ll see their defenses lowering. And enjoyment and positivity will start bubbling up in the relationship – perhaps in ways you haven’t seen in years.
There may still be big issues out there to address. An effort toward kindness won’t solve every problem. But because you’ll just like your spouse more, it will make those issues easier to solve.
I hope you will sign up for the 30-Day Kindness Challenge! (We will send you daily hints and tips.)
Get a group of friends to do it together. Be a part of a movement of kindness in our culture – and in yourself!
Watch this video for more information on the 30 Day Kindness Challenge:
*Shaunti’s newest book, The Kindness Challenge, demonstrates that kindness is the answer to pretty much every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shauntijointhekindnesschallenge.com for more.