The Good Life Institute, LLC » Counseling for Couples, Individuals, and Families

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On being nice…

couple, hug, hugging
The other day, I got out of my car and was walking into the gym when I walked past a couple who were retrieving their gym bags out of the trunk of the car.  The wife unknowingly knocked an item over in the trunk making it more difficult for her husband to get his bag out of the trunk.  He said sarcastically to her, “Thank you so much.”  She wasn’t sure what was wrong so with some frustration she said, “What did I do?”  He then explained to her in an irritated tone how she doesn’t watch what she is doing and therefore makes his life much harder.  She shot back that she doesn’t mean to do anything wrong and is tired of him blaming her for everything.  I could hear their arguing all the way down the parking lot as I made my way into the entrance of the gym.

I almost turned back around and handed them my card.

Why do we do this?  Why are we so mean to the people we love the most.  We all do it.  There are probably a bunch of reasons.  Instead of thinking of the why, I want to focus on how we change this.

People practice what they practice.  You probably know someone who is very into a hobby like playing an instrument or playing a sport.  They keep doing that activity because they are good at it and they get better at it because they keep doing it which keeps it enjoyable because they get better and better.  This happens with every behavior we have.  We practice what we practice even in our relationships.  Take a look at your closest relationships.  How do you manage conflict?  How do you respond to feedback?  How do you respond to feedback when it unpleasant to hear?  How do you share feedback?  How do you show love?  How do you talk to each other throughout the day?

My guess is that the way you answers these questions is a usual pattern of behavior.  But, do you want the patterns of behavior you have?  Are you treating the people you love like you love them?  Of course, no one does perfectly every time, but are you satisfied with your general interactions with those you love?

If not, it’s time to make a change.  It’s time to be kind, to be thoughtful, to be nice, to assume good will, to give the benefit of the doubt, and ultimately to see your partner like the person you chose to love.  If you aren’t actively loving your person, start today.  Remember that the more you practice, the better you will get.  Don’t wait for them to go first, you love first and see what happens.  And, my guess if you practice being nice, your partner may practice too!

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