Kindness Counts

While having the Bachelorette on as background noise earlier this week (yup, we watch. Judge away.) I noticed a lot of similar words being said again and again. Besides the beautiful phrase "right reasons" (which is said about three times a minute) they keep throwing out things like "trustworthy" and "loyal" and "honest." Finally I told Jeff it sounded like what they were looking for was a boy scout, upon which he immediately began to recite the scout  motto? pledge? credo? Whatever it is. You know the one -

  "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."

 This is my dad. 

   I listened to him and then was like, hey - those are a lot of the things I was looking for in a spouse!

   Of course, I had given the qualities I wanted in a future spouse a lot of thought growing up. Or rather, had been told to make lists at a few church activities. One of these lists was unearthed for our wedding reception and framed for display.

  I was glad to read it that day and discover that Jeff fit the bill pretty well. (Phew, didn't need to run and quickly ask for an annulment.) He's even good at math, which was one of my requirements. I figured I'd need that to help balance out my ineptitude at math - looking back, this line of thinking makes me wonder at what point I gave up on math, and if it was too soon. Maybe I never gave it enough of a chance. Anyhow, it doesn't matter now, because Jeff is a math wizard and can do all the addition I need in his head faster than I can write it out to use the touch point system. (Yes, I really still use this. I am not ashamed. It has served me well since the first grade.)

  Anyhow, math is not the point here. What I wanted to say is that while this list is nice and long and wonderful, having been married for five years now (such a veteran, I know) I've realized that there is one major thing that I don't think I ever put on my list that I am so grateful to have. It's so simple I never even thought to put it on my list, I think...though it is in that Scout motto!

  It's simply that Jeff is kind.

  It sounds like such an obvious trait to want in a spouse that it seems almost ridiculous to be writing about. However, after observing many other relationships (I love to observe people) of people I know, sort-of know, don't know at all, etc. I have concluded that sadly not everyone has this, and I am so glad that I do. Jeff is always kind to me. He never belittles me, in public or private. He supports me in whatever I want to do - even when that is a fluid, changing confusing concept. He listens to my ideas, even the nutty ones. If there is something I like, he goes out of his way to make that happen for me - not just tangible things, but little experiences, too. I know he'll never try to make me look or feel stupid in front of people, not even for the sake of a laugh. (Humor has it's place for sure - in fact, that was #1 on my list! We tease each other all the time, but try to be careful about never saying anything that will poke fun at something that is a truly sensitive topic.)

   During a class in college, we were talking about this idea of lists and marriage expectations and how you should really be classifying these "requirements" (if you didn't know, at one point I thought I wanted to be a marriage therapist.) Instead of making one list, the idea is to have a few different tiers of requirements. Figure out the traits you absolutely must have in a spouse, the ones that are absolutely non-negotiable. Then another list of things you'd love to have in a spouse, and yet a third list of things that you'd like to have in your spouse. This sort of weighted requirement list helps get rid of that "I/She/He settled" notion that sometimes hinders us.

   Silly little 13-year-old me wrote on my list that I'd like my future husband to also be Scandinavian. And hey - while I'd love to have that in a spouse, Jeff isn't. I'm so glad I didn't think that was a deal-breaker. (Although we'll see how we end up deciding to celebrate Christmas down the road. Swedish Christmas forever!!)

  So what about you? If you're married, is there anything you've realized later that you are glad you have in a spouse that you never consciously thought about needing? Anything you thought you wanted in a spouse that you realized you didn't absolutely have to have after all? If you're single, what things are on your lists?