Having been wed for thirty years to the same man, I have learned a little bit about this union we call marriage. My parents taught Marriage Enrichment courses, and our family was witness to many husband/wife teams rejoining forces, gaining new perspectives and appreciation for their spouses and the vows they spoke before God and friends. We saw many families restored.
In watching my parents in action, hearing the principles they taught, and reading what the Bible has to say on marriage – its purpose, expectations and function, and how it works best – I have a great appreciation for two people trying to work out their differences to become a united team as husband and wife.
And I believe that once the foundation has been set – who is in charge of what area, the submission questions, what we'll believe, where we spend our time and money, etc. – then the rest of marriage is about kindness. Making that daily choice to extend those Little Kindnesses to each other to make life easier, nicer, more fun, and to feel appreciated.
The man I married comes from strong stock; his heritage in marriage is good. Grandparents were married until death parted them. His mother and father modeled graciousness. She built her life around his preferences – he built his life around giving her the best he could.
And they chose kindness to each other.
They decided early on what the foundation of their marriage would be – the Bible and its teachings – then agreed that they were best friends before marriage, and wanted to remain best friends after the ceremony. Being in the military was actually beneficial for their relationship. They moved so often, they didn't have time to develop deep friendships with others around them, so they opted to develop a deep friendship with each other. They became home base for the other, sounding board, confidante, and cheering section.
Their marriage was twenty years in the making when I met them, and I loved what I saw – that's probably one reason I was so attracted to their son. He was raised in a family who loved, cherished, respected, and honored each other. It's enticing.
Here's one example of the "little kindesses" that drew me in. When I met this family, we lived in a moderately mild climate, however, some years the winters could get a mite cold, just enough to kill off any potted outdoor plants. Spouse's mother loved her plants, and didn't want to watch them die. Military housing afforded no room for extras; no space to house plants indoors. So, my father-in-law-to-be spent his days off from work building a wood-framed greenhouse with plastic sheeting for his wife's plants.
Love in action. Finding out what means so much to the other and helping to make it happen. Laying down one's life for another.
Little kindnesses helped them perservere through financial hardships, too. Having been raised during the depression, they were both rather cognitive of the value of money. To put it mildly, they were tight. They spent efficiently and saved for the items they wanted. Talking through their goals, they came to agreement on what they would buy now, what they would save for, and what could wait. Children's shoes were bought in preparation for the upcoming season: one child's shoes were purchased each month until every foot was properly covered.
Though not specifically referring to marriage, Romans 12:10 gives us a great clue to building a great union: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.
Devotion, love, preference, honor. Those, too, are enticing.
After we choose how our marriages will function best and the foundation we want to build on, then we can move on to the exciting part of actually living out our ideals. Making the most of our partnership and finding ways to make our relationship fun.
Little Kindnesses are the way we've found to make marriage the most exciting endeavor we have dared plunge into.
Ready for the dive?
After 30 years of marriage, Mark & Kym Wright now have eight children. She is a national speaker, author and writer. You can visit her website at: www.KymWright.com. Her online publication is The Mother's Heart magazine, for wives and mothers with hearts in their homes.