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Nice Thing #6: "It's okay that you crashed the car...again."
My nickname in my marriage is Crash, as in, Leigh "Crash" Newman. This is because I am a fender bender. I am a backer-into-the-fire-hydranter. And yet every time, my husband, looking at the latest crumpled bumper on our car or most recent shattered side mirror, says, "It's okay, Crash." I know that he is lying; he loves cars. And he knows that I know he is lying. And yet, to me, this lie is a sweet nothing of deceit, a falsehood tucked into a bouquet of bluebells. It makes me feel accepted for my faults, even the ones I do over and over. There is something relatively minor that your partner does—like breaking dishes or being late or eating all the cookies—that's not okay. But you can lie about it. They will see through you. They will try to do better. But they will also know that you love them enough not to tell the truth and to give them yet another chance to try to change.

Nice Thing #7: "No, you sleep in tomorrow."
Of course, saying this may mean that your partner will follow you around for days, shouting your praises to strangers.

Nice Thing #8: "I absolutely love how you stop and look at historical markers like your mom does."
When you praise a partner for doing something that his parent does, you're effectively giving them a double whammy of affection. First, you're making it clear that you're enjoying what your partner is doing—say, stopping at a historical marker so you both can learn something about a Civil War battle before going to the mall—and everybody likes it when you like what they like.

Secondly, you're acknowledging something wonderful about the human being who, literally, made him. Even in the most difficult cases, where that parent may be absent or challenging or even just prone to yelling during Thanksgiving dinner, simply pointing out something helpful or interesting or kind that the parent handed down will cause a sudden rush of love and gratitude in your partner for that parent. That's what love is about: how you help the people you love feel it—not just for you, but for others, if not for everything and everyone.

Nice Thing #9: "Honey, please tape this list on the bathroom mirror so I can remember to actually say these things to you."

More Ways to Spread Kindness

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