There are many reasons why marriages fail and couples break up. But many of these reasons can be characterized by the lack of empathy. Empathy, in simple terms, is the ability of one or both parties to put themselves in the shoes of the other so they can have a better understanding of where they are coming from. Empathy is present in all normal, healthy relationships when they start out. But if you’re in a situation where you need to decide whether to work on your marriage or not, chances are, empathy is what is lacking in your relationship.
Empathy manifests itself in many different ways. But the most potent manifestation takes place at the height of conflicts or relationship issues. Empathy bridges opposing views by reminding both partners that their perspective of things is just one of many, all of which can be true or real. If you want to save your marriage, you need, first and foremost, to remember what empathy is and how it feels.
Couples in long-term relationships are usually the ones who tend to forget what it’s like to feel for the other. As such, an effective exercise from bringing out the empathy that they used to feel for each other is to give each other air time to talk and vent about the needs that he or she feels are not being met. The objective of the exercise is not so much to be able to talk, but to remember how to listen.
For example, if you want your life back, you need to go through this exercise like a sponge, ready to absorb every drop that will flow out of your partner, and with an open mind. Questioning, interrupting, rebutting are definitely out of the question. The main thing is to learn to listen, and let listening remind you of how it feels to have the kind of concern for your partner that lets you feel their pain like it’s yours, too. By listening quietly and seriously, you get the chance to see things from the other person’s perspective, understand the other from that view, and dispel the need for further arguments.