web analytics
July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Part 10 – Empathize With Your Spouse


Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

(*Names changed)

To feel loved and nurtured, your spouses need to feel that you empathize with their emotions. The key is empathy. Empathy isn’t the same as sympathy or pity. It means being able to put yourself in another’s position, to feel what they feel and see what they see, without losing yourself in the process. And it means you do all of that, even though you may disagree with your spouses’ perceptions, opinions, or feelings. Take a few minutes a day, at a time that works best for both of you, to empathize with the stresses and strains you are each experiencing in other areas of your life. It can make a difference between a marriage that succeeds, and one that fails.

Through empathy, you can deepen the effect of active listening and make your spouses feel that they can turn to you whenever they need to. Empathizing means that we listen without judging the other person’s thoughts and feelings. We tell them that we understand what they are facing and share their pain.

Here are two scenarios that contrast empathetic versus non-empathetic communication.

 

Relationship Skills

In the first conversation, Shlomo* goes on the attack with Batya*, and forgets that she is just looking for someone to empathize with her feelings, not solve them.

 

Batya: I’m so upset at my sister for not inviting our entire family to the simcha.  I can’t believe she would hurt us like this.

Shlomo: She’s terrible! I can’t stand when she plays her games.

Batya: You better believe it.  Last year we spent so much money on her visit, to make her happy, and now she does this? I’m really angry.

Shlomo: We spend so much on her.  Why can’t she reciprocate!?

Batya: She always plays games like this. I never know where she is coming from.

Shlomo: Yeah. She has done this so many times before. I’m getting used to it.

Batya: That’s right. She has always behaved like this. I remember when we were little kids she would make sure to hog the nosh before anyone else did.  She would just grab the pack of treats and eat them in her room, so nobody could see.

Shlomo: I told you.  She is a grabber and can’t control herself!

Batya: Right, just like now.  She doesn’t think of other people’s feelings.

Shlomo: She never does.

Batya: I am so hurt!

In the following dialogue, Shlomo utilizes the power of empathy to relate to his wife’s feelings.

Batya: I’m so upset at my sister for not inviting our entire family to the simcha.  I can’t believe she would hurt us like this.

Shlomo: You’re feeling hurt by your sister.

Batya: You better believe it.  Last year we spent so much money on her visit, to make her happy, and now she does this? I’m really angry!

Shlomo: We spend a lot of money, and now she tells you we can’t come.

Batya: She always plays games like this. I never know where she is coming from!

Shlomo: You don’t trust her and you don’t understand how she makes decisions.

Batya: That’s right. She has always behaved like this. I remember when we were little kids she would make sure to hog the nosh before anyone else did.  She would just grab things and hide in her room, eating them.

Shlomo: She grabbed things before you had a fair chance.

Batya: Right, just like now.  She doesn’t think of other people’s feelings.

Shlomo: You feel she doesn’t care about you.

Batya: That’s right. I wish she would be more sensitive to my feelings.

Shlomo: I understand.

Being empathetic takes time and effort. To deepen your level of empathy, here are some of the Dos and Don’ts that can make a difference:

 

Empathy Don’ts

  • Don’t ignore what your spouse is saying.
  • Don’t diminish the importance of your spouse’s concerns:

“What’s the problem?” “Don’t be so sensitive!”

  • Don’t rush to fix the problem: “Well, if I were you I’d…” or, “You should have…” Many people mistakenly believe that downplaying worries or offering advice is helpful. In fact, pat reassurances often magnify negative feelings, since they force a person to try even harder to feel acknowledged.

 

Empathy Dos

Do pay attention. Set aside the newspaper and turn off the TV when your spouse is talking.

  • Do validate feelings. “He gave that special assignment to the new recruit? I can see why you’re annoyed.”
  • Do ask questions with genuine interest. Make sure your spouse knows you heard what he or she has said. “So how did you respond to him?”
  • Do respond with affection, understanding, and support:

“I’m really sorry you have to put up with that.” “Oh, sweetheart, that could happen to anyone. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

  • Do show support. Take your spouse’s side. “I think your boss went a little overboard, too,” is appropriate. “Well, you shouldn’t have been late in the first place,” isn’t.

 

About the Author: Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He is an expert in marriage counseling, pre-marital education, treating Anxiety and Depression, and helping teens in crisis with offices in Brooklyn. To watch his free videos on marriage and parenting and for appointments visit: www.JewishMarriageSupport.com, email rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com or call 646-428-4723.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Part 10 – Empathize With Your Spouse”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
George Soros: No friend of Israel
Hillary: George Soros is NO Friend of Israel
Latest Sections Stories
Grieff-070315

In the face of evil, we can do acts of kindness. We can do good deeds.

Teens-Twenties-logo

I realized that I am an integral part of that man who wished to win – I am also a part of a nation; I felt like I was standing there and shouting, “I won.”

Teens-Twenties-logo

As I powerfully belted out the song, Ani Maamin B’emunah Sheleima – which means “I believe in God with full faith” – a thought suddenly crossed my mind.

Ganz-View-From-Window-logo

I do not suggest abandoning civilization for a pristine desert island or a hilltop in Judea or Samaria.

After diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the mid-1800s, Antwerp regained its prominence as the diamond capital of the world.

Search the Internet for innovative barbeque items and you might just be surprised at what you come across.

Orlando was once a place where people came only to visit and vacation. Now it is home to a burgeoning Torah community, a place Jewish families can be proud to call home.

You’re not seeking perfection. You’re seeking a life that an average person can manage and feel good about. Don’t feel pressure to change everything at once.

The smuggler’s life has been changed forever. He is faced with a major criminal charge. He will probably be sent to prison.

In Culture Shock, readers will also come to identify with a culture from the other end of Orthodox Jewry’s spectrum.

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Executive Function Disorder (EFD) have trouble keeping themselves organized and on-task.

Our Sages have told us exactly how we should act – and how our children should act – in Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers.

A second supposed difficulty actually becomes a reason to corroborate that Amestris is Esther.

I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other.

More Articles from Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch
Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

A compulsion is a repetitive action. But what underlies the compulsion is an obsession or fear.

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

Teens-at-risk feel alienated from their parents and often believe that no one is interested in hearing about their problems.

Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one – usually a parent or other caregiver – to whom the child is attached.

I try to focus on the parents in a way that is not often addressed. As soon as the child gets anxious, the parent gets anxious;

Most people are not aware that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).

Parental conflict affects children in varying ways, depending on their age. For example, teenagers around the age of fifteen or sixteen are most likely to involve themselves in their parents’ battles. Younger children may keep their feelings hidden inside and may only show signs of depression in late childhood or early adolescence.

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing their teenager to be at risk.

Active listening is only one part of the marriage equation; learning what to say and what not to say is the other half. And, it’s not just about expressing your feelings, but doing it in a way that avoids hurting the other person.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/part-10-empathize-with-your-spouse/2009/04/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: