Kindness in marriage – how can a wife use acts of kindness to woo her husband, particularly when he’s “undeserving”?
It is much easier to extend kindness to a “deserving” husband, much harder when he’s crossed off as unworthy.
But what if there was a way to steal a husbands’ heart, over time, with acts of kindness, whether he deserves it or not?
Please note: this post is for wives who are in generally well-adjusted marriages. Where there’s goodwill on both sides. If you are in abusive marriage, if your husband is addicted, or you’ve been abandoned, other posts on the blog (like this one and this one) might be more helpful.
2nd Samuel chapter 15 tells the story of Absalom, a son of king David, and how he stole the heart of the nation through acts of kindness.
While Absalom practiced kindness for destructive purposes, I believe God wants us to practice kindness in marriage because that is how He views people; valuable and worthy of generous consideration.
God treats us with kindness, in that while we are still undeserving, He woos us and pursues us.
Once in relationship, His greatest desire is that we would extend the same kindness and love we received so other hearts can be softened and turned towards Him.
“I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” John 13:15
Softening hearts through kindness
2nd Samuel 15:2-6 tells the story of Absalom and his wooing of the people of Israel.
“He (Absalom) got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where in Israel they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. Then Absalom would say, “You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!”
When people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them. Absalom did this with everyone who came to the king for judgment, and so he stole the hearts of all the people of Israel. (bracket added)
After reading these verses, God spoke to my heart.
“If Absalom, having evil intentions wooed a Kingdom through humility and kindness, what would happen if you employed kindness in marriage? Not to manipulate or control your husband, but because that is how I view him?”
I was heavily convicted because I am not, naturally, kind person. Rash and selfish are a better description of my base personality. Over the years as I have walked with God, I have grown and stretched but there’s still room (plenty of room) for improvement.
Today I want to pose the question to you; if a son could steal the heart a nation from his father, (and not just any father, but the unstoppable King David) what kind of goodness awaits us when we decide to exercise this simple grace in marriage?
Perhaps your marriage doesn’t need another round of expensive therapy or another tear-drenched phone call with a mentor. Maybe what your marriage needs right now, is a transformed wife.
Absalom’s motives were evil, but we can learn a few things from this man because kindness itself is a virtue.
How to employ kindness in marriage
1. Practice presence
Absalom positioned himself at the entrance of the city and intercepted people who were bringing issues for submission and judgment by the king.
He figured out where people were at, planted himself, opened his ears and mouth, and began to turn the kingdom to himself, from the bottom up, one person at a time.
Kindness involves presence. True kindness happens after proximity; after you’ve listened to his heart beat, observed his problems, difficulties, needs.
Becoming acquainted with your husband’s problems might make you feel less willing to offer kindness. It feels easier to extend kindness to a stranger than to someone you know very well. Familiarity can lower our spirit of generosity.
Familiarity that is mixed with high expectations can wipe out kindness altogether.
But Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?” Matthew 5:46 If you are kind to your husband only when he earns it, where’s the growth and prize in that?
Next time you notice the gaps in your husband’s life, consider how it might be an opportunity to step in and plug them with kindness.
Kindness might say “Instead of thinking about my needs right now, I am going to consider yours first. I will go out of my way (to shut my mouth when I deserve to be heard, spend money on you when I’d rather be spoiled, clean up when it’s your turn, pray for you even if you don’t pray for me e.t.c) and be a blessing to you first. And I’ll do it joyfully, and I won’t even mention it.”
2. Practice value
Verse 5 says
“when people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn’t let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and kissed them.”
The message version reads “Whenever someone would treat him with special honor, he’d shrug it off and treat him like an equal, making him feel important.”
Absalom was royalty, but he stripped himself of that honor and offered it back to people. He seemed to understand the significance of value: people tend to value those who value them.
Nothing diminishes gratitude in marriage faster than a growing sense of entitlement. And entitlement can be quite innocent at the beginning.
Women tend to gather and organize life – our feelings, tasks, seasons, relationships, work e.t.c – in one giant box. Everything is connected. Consequently, our box is ever expanding.
Husbands, on the other hand, seem to have an easier time separating their stuff – instead of one large crate, they have small boxes where they spread out their stuff.
He can relax on the couch and watch TV and not smell the burning food on the stove because he’s on “relax” mode.
So a wife stands back and looks at her giant box – work, marriage, church, friends, family, children, husband – and compares it to her husband’s compartmentalized life – small boxes – and is entirely convinced she’s carrying a heavier load.
And because he’s carrying less, it must mean she’s entitled to more. When hubby attempts to help her carry or diminish her box, there’s zero to no appreciation. “I do so much anyway; it’s the least you can do.”
Absalom, a prince in the land, decided to remove the garments of royalty and elevate the people who were passing through to see the king.
He made sure that they felt more honor and prestige dealing with him and it wasn’t long before their affections were swayed to him.
What would happen in marriage if noticing his efforts was a priority too?
3. Practice patience
This wayward prince did not win over the nation in a day, a week, or even a year. The New Living Translation of the Bible says it took four years.
Four years of listening, of showing up, planting seeds, esteeming others. Four years of leashing his selfish desires.
For kindness to take root in your marriage, you have to think of it as a lifestyle. Not something to unleash when you are feeling particularly generous with your husband. It’s not something to dig up and inspect, checking if it has taken root.
No, kindness at the end of the day is something you do because it has been done to you. You love your husband because that is how God loves him and how God loves you.
Kindness is not the only answer
Kindness is not the answer to all marriage problems, but it is a key ingredient and pathway to resolving issues and creating a sweeter relationship.Kindness is not the answer to every marriage problem, but it is a key ingredient and pathway to resolving issues and creating a sweeter relationship.
When we finally figure out that we do marriage for God, it helps us take that extra step that has the potential to birth great turnarounds in marriage.
When you bath your marriage with friendliness, generosity, and consideration, it makes the hard moments easier to swallow.
If you are trying to bring up a difficulty, for example kindness may manifest as looking at the best possible time to have that conversation, perhaps when he’s rested and ate (see you cooked his meal already.)
Consideration means putting yourself in his shoes – how would you like to be treated if you were in his position?
Generosity might come in trying to think the best of him, giving him the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst.
There are many ways to employ kindness in marriage, and I pray the Lord quickens your heart on how to go the extra mile today.
At the end of the day, marriage is not about making sure you get all you want, or think you deserve, it is about making sure you are giving all that Christ has given you.
Here are a few posts on practical ways to be kind to your husband today.
2 ways to clipping mothering tendencies in marriage (how a”tough love” approach might look like)
Tired of the fussing, fighting and distance? Want to restore joy, healing and happiness to your marriage? Or maybe you just want to love better, create the marriage of your dreams, God’s way. My book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After In The Early Years will set you on that road. Buy it here Amazon Paperback I Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF I UK/Europe PDF . Or Click here to go to the book page.