Last Updated on June 13, 2018

I remember a conversation I had with my mother when I was just a little girl. A couple my parents’ age had apparently had a very difficult marriage. Mother’s comment to me was that one of the reasons this couple did not break up was because he was a gentleman and treated his wife as a gentleman should.

Now, I didn’t think much of this comment at the time, but in recent years I’ve reflected on the actions of this man. Sadly his sense of civility has become lost in today’s culture of rudeness, cynicism, sarcasm, and the emphasis on “my rights.” And this loss is impacting each of our lives in how we relate in our marriages and in how we train, or don’t train, our children.

I see this loss in my own life when I ask myself these questions:

Do I treat my husband John in the same way I would my close friend or an older visitor to my home? Do I speak to him in the same way I would another person? Am I considerate and thoughtful—even when I don’t feel like it and am irritated with him?

In all honesty, my answer would most likely be “no.”  I didn’t ask him if he’d like me to fix him a cup of coffee, or if there was anything I could do for him. I didn’t thank him for something he routinely does. I didn’t say, “I hope you have a great day.” It’s so easy to get lazy with those to whom we are the closest. But beware—laziness becomes a fertile field for rudeness. And rudeness destroys relationships.

We have found that many marriages which are headed into trouble could be rescued if civility, manners, and thoughtfulness became habits instead of exceptions. Sometimes little acts of kindness can lay the groundwork for healing to take place in a relationship. Frequently a kind action must be done simply because it’s the right thing to do, not because we feel like it or the other person deserves it. But just because it’s right.

Let’s encourage one another to act like ladies and gentlemen. Beginning today, let’s speak and act with kindness in one specific way towards our spouse. If we recapture a sense of civility one step at a time in our marriages, our children will be more likely to treat their future mates with grace and kindness.

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  1. Gina Hendrix says:

    Great Post! I believe this also.

  2. Wise, wise words! We often give our best to "the world" and our worst to those we love who truly deserve our best!

  3. My husband and I have discussed this very same thing before. And I have to admit that we're both guilty of not doing a good job at being civil to each other alot of times. How much better would our marriage and home be if we worked harder at it?! Thanks for the post….really enjoyed reading it. 🙂

  4. Julia DesCarpentrie says:

    What a great reminder! I too often am crabby at the end of a day with 3 young kids to greet my husband with the love and kindness he deserves. I was recently reminded, too, that I am responsible for my own behavior regardless of how the other person is acting. Thank you for this wonderful post, Susan.

  5. I'm too often led by the culture and its lack of respect. But I've seen the value of showing respect for my husband whether or not he's earned it. Someone once told me to show respect for my spouse whether or not I feel it. They said that the feelings will usually follow the actions. I've found that to be true in my own marriage.
    I know that some women feel like it would be too risky to show respect for their husbands because they've been trampled on so many times. Christ wants to be there for them and meet their needs as they respect their husbands out of obedience to Him. I'm not saying that they should sit around and take physical abuse. I also think that women who are divorced who have children need to speak respectfully about their ex-husbands in front of their children. I'm sure that this could be very difficult in some situations, but children want and need to respect their fathers.

  6. Hey Gina, Karin, Tyra, Julia and Ellie,
    I loved each of your comments! You are wise women and I want to thank you for taking the time to respond. Your thoughts encourage all of us.
    Blessings, Susan Yates

  7. I am so glad to have read this at this time since I too have been in this situation. We sometimes forget to love the one we fell in love with, because we feel he/she already know that, but it takes more than just knowing, but we need to continue to love to the seed that we planted many years ago before we got married and make the effort no matter how busy, or lazy we are. love your husbands and wifes and let them know always.

  8. Hey Mary,
    Thanks so much for your comment! I love your phrase.."we need to continue…" It's so easy to get lazy isn't it? Let's both "continue" today in some specific way to show our husbands love!
    Bless you, Susan