7 Ways to Develop Empathy and Gain Insight into Your Mate

Empathy Involves Insight. So how do we gain this insight? There's an easy acrostic involving 7 ways to gain empathy at this post. Click to read more! #insight #empathy #marriage #prayer #communication

Have you ever struggled to truly understand your mate’s feelings—feeling empathy for what he/she is going through?

I sure have! 😉 

But it’s important to examine this important responsibility from every angle. So, first off … 

What exactly is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to come alongside someone, and not only understand a person’s point of view, but also feel the other person’s pain.

Empathy Involves Insight. So how do we gain this insight? There's an easy acrostic involving 7 ways to gain empathy at this post. Click to read more! #insight #empathy #marriage #prayer #communication

I’ve discovered that if I don’t fully understand or feel the gravity of what my mate is going through, it can make my marriage very messy, very fast! In those moments, it as if I’ve become blind to what has been going on in his heart and mind.

This cuts me off from him—keeping me from feeling any degree of empathy in the moment when it’s needed most.

[bctt tweet=”It is incredibly important to develop empathy when it is lacking in marriage. #renewyourmarriage #awakenyourheart” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

How Do You Develop Empathy?

How to Develop Empathy - This post gives clarity on how to understand and see what your mate is feeling. #empathy #understanding #feelings #connection #communicationThere are seven key ways, among many, to develop empathy. I hand-picked these, because I feel they are among the best strategies for gaining insight into your mate’s heart. And, in an effort to help you remember them, the methods are an acrostic for: I.N.S.I.G.H.T.

1. Imagine your spouse/offender—using your imagination in several ways to your advantage.

  • One way is to imagine yourself in your spouse’s situation. Really take time to think through how you would feel if you were in his or her shoes—especially regarding the pain being experienced.
  • Another way is to look at photos of your spouse as a child and use them to help you visualize your mate. Often when we consider our spouse in the vulnerable stage of childhood, our defenses tend to lower and lessen.
2. Nurture the Relationship

Make a point to regularly practice caring behaviors with your spouse. When you act lovingly toward your mate (or anyone for that matter), it will increase your feelings of love for him/her. It then goes on to develop your ability to empathize in that relationship.

3. Set Aside Your Beliefs, Feelings and Personal Agenda

Very often couples come at each other with baggage from their past or presuppositions that muddy the communication waters. Instead, you must be willing to let your mind and perspective be changed as you listen to your partner.

Make it your agenda to listen for your spouse’s feelings, going further to try to understand their point of view. Most of all, this should never be about proving your point of view. 😉

4. Identify with Your Mate’s Experiences

After your spouse has had plenty of time to share his/her feelings, you need to identify with them.

When have you experienced something like this? How did it feel for you?

Really put yourself in your mate’s shoes and imagine what you would feel to be him or her. This will help to deepen your emotional insight into your mate’s plight.

5. Gain Personal Perspective

This method involves working on your personal identity. If you don’t have a clear sense of identity, then you can become enmeshed or take on your mate’s feelings in an unhealthy way. (Read a post that I did on this subject here.)

If that’s the case, then you’ll want to work on detaching emotionally from your mate. This is not about withholding empathy or compassion! Rather, it simply means you consistently avoid letting your spouse’s negative behavior determine your mood or choices.

In time, you’ll gain a greater sense of identity, definition and separateness that will offer you the advantage of perspective.

6. Heal Past Hurts

If you don’t heal your own past hurts, you’ll be like a walking wound. And anyone who brushes up against you will send shock waves of anger and pain through your mind and body. This festering anger will keep you from identifying or understanding your spouse’s feelings.

That’s because you have become self-absorbed with your own pain. 😦

When you find ways to resolve your hurts, you can turn your focus off of yourself and more clearly see your partner’s pain.

7. Turn to God!

As humans, I believe, our ability to empathize is extremely limited without God’s help. We may try to empathize based on sheer willpower. But when the heat is on or the situation endures, our empathy quickly evaporates.

That’s why it’s essential to turn to God, because He gives us the mercy, compassion and grace necessary to develop empathy and gain insight.

It’s as if our empathy cup never runs dry, when God is the One pouring His abundant compassion into our hearts for our mates.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

What has hindered you the most from feeling empathy for your mate now or in the past?

 

What is one strategy that you would add to the seven I’ve offered above?

 

This is reposting of a post from years ago. I’m sharing older content while I take a blogging break. So I won’t be responding to comments, but would really appreciate any social media sharing while I’m away! If you do so, you’ll make my day!


Here are some lovely linkups I join –Inspire Me MondayLiterary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories LinkupBreak Through Homeschooling LinkupCoffee for Your HeartSitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationGrace Moments LinkupTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementMoments of HopeGrace and TruthFaith and FriendsBlogger Voices NetworkFaith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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12 responses to “7 Ways to Develop Empathy and Gain Insight into Your Mate”

  1. This is great! Love the acrostic. I often find empathy a hard thing to explain. I’ll have to remember this.BTW. I tried to come over from On, In, and Around Mondays but the link wasn’t good. I just recognized that MM was messy marriage and came on my own.

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  2. Thanks so much, Mary Beth, for your kind words and also for letting me know about my link problem! I’ll have to check out your latest next! 🙂

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  3. I was here earlier, but didn’t have time then to comment. So I’m back, because these are really good pointers, and the acrostic helps to remember them. It’s so easy to misunderstand or have too little grace with the people closest to us. We need to make the effort to develop that empathy. Thanks for these good helps!

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  4. Such a detailed, helpful post, Beth. I’m not married, but I pray this post will bless many who are. Thanks for visiting me at Doorkeeper!

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  5. Empathy is so important in any relationship. It keeps us from looking at ourselves. It is an act of grace. Love the acrostic and the ideas here. So helpful!

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  6. Yes, I’m still working on this one in my life. I feel like it may be one of the most important skills I acquire in my life. I’m glad you feel the pointers are helpful. Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging too!

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  7. Thanks for your kind words, Renee. The fact is, this post is a repost from another blog I used to write at and was geared toward “everyone.” So the points are helpful whether you’re married or not. Thanks so much for coming by my place too! 🙂

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  8. Thanks, Christina. Your encouragement means a lot! 🙂

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  9. Love this. So helpful!

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  10. Excellent post with very practical tips!Thank you, Beth!Yes, Empathy is such an important part of a marriage relationship…something very like what the Bible calls “lovingkindness.”Two other tools I have found very useful: One is to pray for my wife…really pray very specifically for what I perceive as her needs while asking God to help me to better understand her needs.Second is to simply ask my wife, “Help me to understand…” I seldom get the response I expect, but I nearly always gain insight, when I ask such questions.

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  11. Thanks for saying and for coming by, Lyli!

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  12. Those are great additional thoughts, Joe. Thanks, as always, for coming by and weighing in! 🙂

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