Remember the “Golden Rule” we learned in kindergarten?
Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.
Don’t shove others if you don’t want them to shove you.
Stop pouring sand on that kid’s head unless you want sand on yours!
Or some form thereof.
You may or may not have know that this little rule actually comes straight out of the Bible. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Seems like a great and good idea, doesn’t it? I mean, no one really wants sand on their head, or to be insulted in public, or to have a flaw loudly pointed out, or to be ignored, or to be looked over, or to be gossiped about, or to be un-invited to a birthday party (aka: de-friended on Facebook).
We should definitely treat each other with the kindness we wish to receive! Elementary wisdom and practical advice.
But…..there’s a small rub to all of this.
Some people may not want to be treated the same as other people.
Sure….we all would like basic politeness and humane treatement..but after that main level our differences in personality begin to show some changes.
For instance: I like icing. A lot. If I am going to have a piece of cake, then by all means give me the corner one with extra frosting flowers slapped all over it. I probably won’t even touch the cake underneath.
When I am in charge of serving my friends some dessert, I try to make sure each piece has a mountain of icing piled on it. I figure they will love it even more….because that’s what I would want. While some friends appreciate this gesture, others politely scrape the frosting to the side and eat only the cake. Their preferences are different from mine….and that’s OK because I am an amazing friend and will eat the icing off their plate for them!
Another example: I don’t care for candles that smell like food. (It seems to me that it’s a pretty mean trick to walk into a home that smells like fresh-baked apple pie only to be told that there IS NO APPLE PIE AVAILABLE FOR ME TO EAT. It’s only a candle. A pile of wax. How is that ok?) Therefore, if I chose to give someone a candle as a gift, I will pick the peony or pine cone or leather or seaside or bonfire or wet dog before I will crush their spirits with the scented hope of never-made fresh-baked goods.
However…..I myself have received many gifts of cupcake-flavored candles. Apparently other people LIKE their homes to smell of ghost-food. Thus they think everyone likes their homes to smell of ghost-food. These are well-meaning people….and I will bring them a cupcake someday so they can see what true bliss really is.
Point being…when we get past the basic level of niceties in humanity…..our preferences begin to show their difference. So while it is definitely a good idea to make sure we treat people with the kindness we also want to receive….perhaps after that we should work on discerning what makes THEM happy….instead of what would make OURSELVES happy. This is especially true in marriage.
My husband loves to have his feet rub. I would literally rather scrape all ten fingernails across a chalkboard 73 times then touch his feet OR have anyone touch mine. My idea of a relaxing joy-creating moment involves complete solitude with a book, a big hot mug of coffee and total silence. So…when my spouse comes home after a particularly grueling day, I could decide to “do unto him as I would want done unto myself”…..and send him into a quiet room with a kindle and a latte. Truth? He would probably think he was being punished and then be even madder when he was up all night on a caffeine high. If I’m trying to make HIM happy, then I remember that his preferences are not mine. I call in the kids and bribe them to rub his feet with scented lotion while Fox News is blaring in the background.
On the flip side, if I walked in after an atrocious afternoon and he tried to manhandle my feet I would probably start crying and demand to know why he wanted to completely ruin my day and make my life miserable. Just sayin’.
Sometimes we have to learn how to treat other people the way they want to be treated, rather than the way that we might want to be treated. We have to see action movies instead of romantic comedies, make dinner at home instead of eating out, spend time alone instead of with a group of friends, or go to the mountains instead of the beach, because those are the actions and choices that bring somebody else joy. Hopefully, if we are doing this for our spouse….they will be doing it for us as well. That way everyone’s cups are being filled.
If you are the only one doing it though? Then keep doing it! Set an example. In figuring out how to make your spouse happy…you’re following the Matthew principle. Maybe he/she will learn how to do it back unto you!
Because when we do to others what they would want, even if it’s not what we would want done for us, then we are showing that we would want something different done for us than we are doing for them which is what we would want them to do for us! Got it? Clear as a latte, right?
EVeryone deserves a basic level of kindness. Treat strangers and acquaintances the way you would like to be treated. But….as you get to know them (or as you MARRY them!) then figure out what brings THEM joy and treat them accordingly.
This is just a variation of that long-standing “golden rule.” Maybe it’s more of a “golden-brown rule”—like the color of a caramel macchiato. Yeah. That would make a much better gift than a cake-batter scented candle.