My wife and I are both therapists. Unless you're new to this , you probably know that. We talk about a therapy and communication and relationships a lot.

One day she says to me that she thinks we need to add a rule to my six rules of communication. Those rules are:

  1. Be Intentional.
  2. Always avoid always and never say never.
  3. Does it have to be a problem. BeKind
  4. Facts only.
  5. Issues not people
  6. Today's news.

We've used them for years. Four of them were shared with us in our own premarital counseling and I added two (#2 and #3). I've shared them with thousands of people of the years. They form a bedrock of almost all the couples counseling we do. So I was a bit taken back.

It turns out she doesn't need to add a rule. It's covered under #1 but I do want to highlight her observation and discuss it a little bit here.

She observed that people are just mean to each other. Especially, if it's someone they love.

I once read that John Gottman gathered a lot of emails and texts between people (It might have been thousands but to be honest, I don't remember and this is not an academic paper so I'm not looking it up). What they discovered was that they could edit out the names and relations of the people so that all they had was a number. They could figure out who the spouse was with a high 90+ percentage of accuracy.

Well, no duh Joe, I mean it would be obvious based on stuff like grocery lists and kid things, right?


They figured out who the spouse was by adding up the mean communications.

Go back and read that again.

For some reason, we seem to think that we can be rude to those we love the most. We're often willing to be beyond rude and just be flat out mean to them.

If we feel threatened, we'll just get mean.

I wrote about the idea of giving ourselves a hall pass for bad behavior here.

Being mean is like taking a blow torch to your house and setting it on fire because you decide you didn't like dinner tonight.

Too often, people come back after their mean explosion and say, "I'm sorry" as if that will fix everything. That's like trying to put the fire we set with the blow torch over supper with a garden house after the house has been engulfed for an hour.

Saying I'm sorry is good, but changed behavior is better.

What's even better than changed behavior is not having to put a fire out.

So what's my wife's rule? Well, you've probably figured it out by now, but just in case you have not, here it is.

Just be kind!

She may have worded it a little more colorfully but her mom reads this so we'll keep it at that.
It should be simple, but it often isn't. 
So here's a challenge.

Set fire to all of your hall passes and just be kind. No matter what you have to say, find a kind way to say it. No matter how angry you over something that happened, be kind.

Be kind when you're happy

Be kind when you're not.

Be kind. 




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