Showing kindness to your spouse is rewarding in and of itself, says a new study published in the journal Emotion; the giver benefits emotionally through such compassionate acts.
Kindness is a virtue, and with virtues come rewards. Now, science has brought forth evidence to what has been said since time immemorial.
When you are being kind to someone, you are not just giving good to him—you are, in fact, receiving benefits yourself. The psychologists who reached this conclusion, a team from the University of Rochester, explain that the giver earns significant emotional benefits, regardless of whether the recipient spouse is conscious of the act of kindness being sent his way or not. For instance, a husband clearing the snow-covered windshield of his wife will be boosting his own emotional health, irrespective of whether his wife knows it or not.
Lead author Harry Reis and his team studied the behaviours of a group of 175 newlyweds who had been married for around 7 months. Their hypothesis was that “compassionate concern for others’ welfare enhances one’s own affective state”, based on the sayings of the current Dalai Lama.
The participants were to keep a record of the occurrences whereby either spouse chose to put the other one first, such as changing one’s personal schedule for one’s partner, and expressing gentleness to one’s spouse. Their respective emotional states were also documented everyday: they had to choose from a set of 14 positive and negative terms to describe how they felt, like happy, calm, sad, and angry.
The findings show that husbands would perceive acts of kindness more than their female counterparts: the former reported being the giver and receiver of an average of 0.65 such deeds per day, and the latter, 0.59.
The researchers confirmed some of their predictions: when the act was acknowledged by the recipient, the giver experienced the greatest impact—having his deed recognised made him feel valued; when the act was recognised by both, the recipient would feel the most benefit, as opposed to when a kind deed was only perceived by one without being intended by the other.
Furthermore, Reis explains that a recipient has to recognise the kindness in an act to harvest emotional benefit from it. However, this was not the case for the donor: recognition is not as much an important ingredient for him.
Therefore, Reis and his team concluded that being kind might be a reward of its own.
So, all you married couples out there, don’t hesitate to do random and meaningful acts of kindness to your spouse!