Random Acts of Kindness

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. — Leo Buscaglia

What was it like in the early days of your relationship? If you're like many couples, you took advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate your interest and prove how much you cared. You probably wrote love notes and thank-you cards, gave small gifts, opened doors, ran errands without complaining, offered frequent neck and foot massages. In other words, you performed regular acts of love and kindness. In many ways, a successful dating relationship involves "showing" the other person how much you care. However, as the years go by, these random acts of kindness often begin to fade – or all but disappear.

Why do we often treat strangers better than our own spouse?

In a marriage, we sometimes get so busy working and raising children that it's easy to start neglecting our spouse. Once complacency and routine set in, small acts of love become nonexistent. Yet it's never too late to recapture that enthusiasm; to once again "show" our love. As a matter of fact, 1 John 3:18 instructs: "Let us not love with mere words or tongue but with actions. . . . "

Love in action

This date night is about regaining the passion to perform small acts of love for your spouse. Wikipedia describes a random act of kindness as "a selfless act performed by a person wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual. There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier." When you do something kind for your spouse, he or she feels better, you feel better, and best of all, your husband or wife is more likely to pass on the kindness. Your kindness is multiplied. In addition to the ways you care for your spouse already, what if you did some extra things without being asked? These acts of love and kindness don't need to be elaborate or expensive. Instead, find at least one loving act you can practice for your spouse each day.

Date Night

First of all, remember to act like you’re trying to get another date! Sometimes in marriage, we forget that we need to pursue and "woo" our spouse. Get dressed up. Be polite and open doors. Compliment each other. Be affectionate—hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. But don’t forget to protect your date night from conflict by interrupting any argument and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.

Step 2: Time for random acts of kindness!

Your date night activity, as a couple, is to practice random acts of kindness toward other people. See how many kind acts you can do together while on your date! Here are some ideas or create your own:

  • Give a care package (toiletries, granola bars, a Bible and more!) to a homeless person.
  • Spend time at a nursing home or hospital with someone who typically doesn't get visitors.
  • Let someone go in front of you while waiting in line.
  • Drop off a game or toy at a homeless shelter or hospital.
  • Fill out a customer satisfaction survey and praise your salesclerk or server.
  • Anonymously pay for someone else's food.
  • Return a shopping cart for someone else.
  • Take chocolates, flowers or some other gift to a hospital, retirement home or to a neighbor you don’t know.
  • Mow your neighbors' lawn, rake their leaves or shovel their snow.
  • Donate a teddy bear for a traumatized child at a nearby police station or women's shelter.
  • Let another car pull out in front of you.
  • Buy a copy of your favorite book and donate it to your local library or hospital.
  • Give up your seat on a subway or bus.
  • Volunteer at a local food bank, soup kitchen or other nonprofit ministry.
  • Make sure to tell a store or restaurant manager when you've received great service.
  • Give an anonymous financial gift for someone in need.
  • Deliver some groceries to your neighbors or a financially struggling family.

Step 3: Be a student of your spouse.

Any time you are driving or sitting together, ask each other questions. Be fascinated by your spouse as you learn new information!

  • What would be some random acts of kindness that I could do for you on a regular basis?
  • What are some answers to the statement: I feel loved when you …?
  • What are your least favorite "chores" or household tasks that I could do for you?
  • How can I help you be more successful at home or at work?

Step 4: Relax and unwind.

After your random acts of kindness date is over, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to slow down and emotionally connect over good conversation. Ask the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, encouraging and uplifting.

  • What was your favorite part of the evening?
  • What is one thing that you learned about me tonight that you didn’t know before?
  • How can we make sure that "random acts of kindness" are a regularly part of our marriage?

Step 5: Home sweet home.

As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Also, think of at least one random act of kindness you can do for your spouse over the next few days. Perhaps you can prepare a favorite meal, fill up his or her car with gas, buy a small gift or simply turn off the TV and talk. Once you get home, however, it’s up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!

© 2012 Focus on the Family.