No. How can love alone be enough? For one thing, love without kindness isn’t complete. Love invokes kindness and vice versa.
I know you are probably waiting to hear about another human quality that I hold higher than kindness but I’d advise you to not hold your breath for that to come, at least not on my blog. One of the finest human qualities that is almost unique to our species is kindness.
And we extend it freely. Humans show kindness to everyone. I know that I approach my patients with kindness. I don’t ever question my patients’ decisions regarding pursuing alternative medicine (even when it hasn’t been working that great) when they’re sick. I reserve that discussion for when they’re feeling better. It just doesn’t feel right to load them with my opinion of their decisions when they’re ill . Kindness is an inherent human feature. A lack of this feature makes us an aberration. A presence of it makes us human.
I show kindness to my daughter’s teachers too. I know that autism can be tough to teach and while I want the best for my child, I can’t ethically get her the help she needs by being unkind to her teachers. The practice of kindness and compassion is very important to maintain the human connection.
But the one relationship which very frequently remains lacking of intentional kindness is a spousal relationship. May be because we spend so much time together that we don’t think we need to be kind to each other . At the expense of repeating myself, practicing kindness is different from being subservient, being one of a man’s army of yes men or being without an opinion. It doesn’t mean that at all. Because kindness is strength-provoking and empowering. Its purpose isn’t to make us weak. A much higher purpose of kindness is to empower people with it and show them how they can draw from their own well of kindness too.
Kindness is vast in its definition and nearly all aspects of this outstanding virtue are needed and subconsciously practiced AT ALL TIMES in a successful spousal relationship. We just don’t practice it intentionally. When we practice it intentionally we go against our nafs and instead of being impulsive/compulsive we choose to act in a kind and empathic manner. And believe it or not, a lot of kindness is practiced by at least one partner in a divorced relationship too.
So I don’t find it weird that a woman is living with a man with a violent anger and is seeking counseling for it. Why? Because I see her practicing forgiveness and some of the fortitude that we talked about in another blog post “Patience and Fortitude” . She’s giving him a chance to win her over again. Shes extending her good faith. She’s not being weak. She’s fighting for them. Forgiveness and fortitude make up kindness too.
And I don’t find it weird that the same woman walks out of her marriage when his anger knows no limits and escalates to a level which is animalistic in its magnitude. She’s walking out because of her kindness towards other people who were getting affected, sometimes parents and sometimes children. And kindness for herself also. She’s walking out after using major strength and resolve . Because it’s very hard to leave. Sometimes it’s easier to stay. Strength and resolve are borne out of kindness.
I also don’t find it odd that a man does the dishes after dinner. This is how couples show true gratitude. This is how he’s showing gratitude for the meal she cooked. Gratitude and kindness come from each other .
Is it weird that some women are financial partners of equal or higher worth in their marriages ? Is it weird that some women feel this responsibility? I know many won’t agree with me but I find that a remarkable act of kindness. This is how a woman matches her modern era persona with her loyalty to the needs of her marriage. This is when she puts her money where her mouth is. This is real life. This isn’t a movie. This isn’t about his masculinity or her femininity. This is about school fee, mortgage and car payments. Down the initial ten years or even less, this is about college funds and retirement plans. The financial partnership that women of today are showing their men without getting into their role as outlined by society and their not being directly responsible for finances as outlined by our religion is the kind of camaraderie and friendship that a marriage is built on. And we all know that friendship, trust, having each other’s back stems from kindness.
So what is my opinion on people divorcing with kindness? I have a very high opinion of men who let their women out of any marital situation as soon as they feel that their own kindness is slipping. I have a lot of respect for these men. I have a lot of respect for men who show kindness to their wives if their wives want to divorce. I love this particular type of men almost more than men who are making a marriage successful through kindness. Because showing kindness through adversity is the real test of character. Showing compassion to the woman who shared her life with him but doesn’t want to anymore is his true mettle. I also appreciate men who can reflect and accept with introspection why a woman may not want to be with them anymore. I love these men for any character-building exercise they willingly put themselves through. They are the true husbands in many cases. They feel their wife’s pain through their own and show her softness and kindness. You’ve heard of kind marriages, right? Some divorces are also kind. Those divorces are better than unkind marriages, in my opinion.
I know people can get all judgmental and up in married couples’ business and deem them happy or sad, rich or poor, in love or barely getting along, healthy or sick, in sync or discordant just as a way of commenting on what they think someone’s relationship is. But that’s not fair. Everyday, a married couple practices much more than what meets the eye. Love meets the eye usually very easily but besides love a couple practices so much more. Because love is not enough. Respect, consideration and introspection make a marriage work even when sometimes love is not flowing as freely as we would like it to.
This is my observation, and yours could be different, that the true dissolution of a relationship starts not when love ends but when kindness leaves. Maintaining kindness and its various faces is how all things important to sustain our relationship begin.