One of the deepest desires for humans is the need to be understood, and you cannot understand a person without empathy. The need to be heard without passing any judgment or trying to take any kind of responsibility can feel really good.
Understanding your partner comes with empathy, and this helps in making you understand how your partner feels. During conflicts, most couples lack empathy which makes it difficult for them to reconcile quickly as soon as the fight resolves. Couples who master the attribute of empathy are well aware of the cycle of conflict that they were going through and how it has changed drastically.
Empathy helps people realize that during a fight it is them versus the problem and not them versus each other and this causes the partners to stop defending themselves and instead understand each other.
Make use of empathy
Empathy is very easy if your partner is happy and it becomes very difficult if your partner is hurt, angry or slightly sad. However, it is crucial to understand the difference between feeling empathetic and sympathy. Sympathy is a feeling of compassion, pity or sorrow without experiencing the feeling of your partner with them.
A description of sympathy can be made simple by painting a silver-lining around sorrow and pain of your partner, and the most common response includes, “Well, this could be worse,” “I think you should,” “This can be an optimistic experience for you if you just..”
These responses invalidate the other person and can make your partner resent you for making such an effort. However, instead of doing this, you can read on the skills mentioned below and improve your capability and inclination to empathize.
Listen to your partner without judging
Being empathetic in a relationship is only possible if you remove all the judgmental thoughts from your head regarding your partner’s needs and feeling. If you place your partner responsible for the way he or she feels and take their messages personally you are already judging and blaming them.
Judging your partner’s experience is a way to protect yourself, and you can never empathize if you judge. To empathize with your significant other, you will have to master the art of listening without defending yourself and also focus on being inquisitive on how your partner is feeling.
Search for feelings and stay rational
During the heat of conflict, it is very easy to lose track of your emotions and get stuck in one spot. When you lose track of emotions and feelings, you are your partner are bound to argue over one thing again and again. You will dispute who is right, and at the end of the day, both views will be valid.
However, being rational in such circumstances can help inhibit empathy, and this will allow you to concentrate on your partners feeling and their need.
Get inside their hiding spot
If you are determined on listening to your partners feeling with your whole being, then it can become easier for you to understand their perspective. When your partner is hurt and vulnerable, they will imagine themselves in a dark hole, a hole or a pit of pain where they are alone.
In these moments they will not need you to throw a rope and save them but instead will appreciate you climbing in this pit with them and to feel what they feel. This is where empathy comes in handy; empathy can be referred to as a mind meld.
Empathy will require you to experience your partner’s feelings on a level where you can become your partner and stand in their shoe; it is so deeply connecting that some may even say that empathy is a physical connection of two minds.
If you have trouble getting inside the hole you can start by being inquisitive regarding their feelings and help them understand why they are feeling this way. This curiosity will help make it easy for you to empathize with their feelings and understand what they are going through.
During this state of your partner, you will get a chance to summarize all that you have heard and when doing this remember that you must respect the perspective, opinion, and feelings of your partner as naturally as you can; even if these feelings are different from your, and you don’t see eye to eye, still make sure that they are as valid as they can be.
Validating your partner’s opinion in no way requires that you abandon your own. Empathizing helps in showing you and understanding why your partner has those needs and feelings. Some empathizing statements that you can use are “How can you not feel…” or “Of course you feel like that..” and “I understand what you just said very clearly”
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.