Developing empathy in relationships helps you thrive. You’ll better understand your partner. Being mindful of how they feel and where they’re coming from can help you fight less, be closer, and feel more loved.
Developing Empathy Can Help You Understand the Root of Problems in Your Relationship
As you know I help couples when they are in distress about their relationships. When I meet a new couple I often invite each person to talk about what is happening for them in the relationship. This way I can begin to understand what feelings may not be addressed.
I also know that when people begin to talk about the relationship they have probably already been exhibiting behaviors that the other person is not too pleased about. The behaviors are usually what brings a couple into counseling, but I know as a therapist the feelings underneath— the feelings that people might not be aware of—are the real reason for the behaviors in the first place.
Empathy is the Key to Feeling Understood, Something We All Crave
Those preceding paragraphs describe a complex human process of understanding ourselves and how we act when we get our feelings hurt. But most of us are not psychology experts with skills and ideas to help us understand ourselves, even so we all try to figure out ourselves and our mates anyway.
All of us decide things mean what they mean, and to our minds this is the truth. So, in a relationship we often wonder, “How could my partner not see what I see?”
This is one of the most challenging parts of being involved with another person. We want and need to feel understood by our other person. But we are often misunderstood by them. We might feel so wounded, left out, and disconnected it can make us “crazy” with needing something so bad we will do almost anything to get it.
Yeah, and that anything might be yelling, fighting, leaving, staying silent. We will do almost anything to get what we need. And what do we all need? To feel loved. To know they care, because when we don’t feel it, well we might just take someone’s head off, and that’s never pretty.
Developing Empathy in Relationships is Easier with Concrete Examples
I used to help couples understand these complexities by giving them an example of what the other person feels when they receive a behavior used on them to feel loved. Let’s say a partner yells when they get upset. I would often help the person who yells to understand the impact on the person who was yelled at. This way the yeller has an understanding of what it feels like to be yelled at and can develop empathy for the person they hurt.
This is one way to build empathy in a couple and it’s a way to get each person to become responsible for how they impact their most important person.
Put Yourself in Your Partner’s Shoes Today and Feel More Connected and Loved
Understanding between you and your partner is the real key.
Here’s another way to help you understand each other’s actions. Think about what you do when you get your feelings hurt by your mate. Whatever it is, see the action you take in your mind, now turn it on yourself. How would you feel if this action was done to you? Does it hurt?
If you can get this concept, all by yourself, and apply it to yourself, you might not blame your mate anymore. You could begin to monitor yourself and be a good mate, always. And that I believe could have the biggest impact of all on your relationship.
Bring More Empathy Into Your Relationship
Read a Book About Relationships
Bring more empathy, understanding, and love into your relationship, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help you and your loved one communicate better, helping you feel more connected than ever before. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.