Kindness - a major love ingredient

January 20, 2013

Ever wondered why some relationships just seem to flow so well while others appear to get stuck and take the strain? Ever wondered if there are little secrets about life and love that we are missing out on – maybe tricks of the trade that if we knew and applied, would make our relationships run more smoothly and feel more satisfying?

Indeed there are – and throughout the ages writers have managed to capture some gems about love that delight us. Amongst these we find an elegant little book called Conditions of Love by John Armstrong. He argues that we all want to love and be loved, and that being loveable is an important part of loving, as much as loving well is. Armstrong continues to describe this thought by saying that loving another human being means that we need to treat the other with kindness, understanding, and empathy (putting ourselves in their shoes).

To this, he adds that we also need to love with responsibility, by taking care of our own wants and needs and by taking responsibility for our own well being, just as much as being loving and caring to our significant others. He argues that we cannot hold the other responsible for our own well being. We need to take care of that for ourselves. So, if the other does or says something that we do not like, we need to enter into some form of settling these differences so that both feel they are better off for having resolved the difference.

In essence, the thoughts above provide a template for living well – if we live alongside with the people we love in a kind, compassionate and responsible way, there will be no need to enter into unpleasantness to resolve our differences. A caring, adult relationship then, would leave no room for name-calling, blaming one another, shaming one another, shouting or swearing at one another.

Sounds ideal, but is it attainable? If you want more of this for yourself, yet feel that your relationship does not have the nurturing kind of atmosphere that will allow this growth, how about finding small ways for yourself to live out kindness, understanding, empathy and responsibility? It could be that given this new environment, your partner will follow some of the examples you set. If not, how about discussing your thoughts with a sensitive counsellor you can trust? Good luck with the way forward in love and kindness!