2 Quick Phrases to Help You Be a More Empathic Spouse

2 Quick Phrases to Help You Be a More Empathic Spouse

My natural inclination is to fix things. I grew up with a Dad who could fix the car, things around the house, anything. While I’m no Larry Lowe, I consider myself pretty handy. And my wife, Nancie, has always been very thankful for my home fix-it projects. But I also have the natural inclination to fix her painful emotions. 

During our first couple of years of marriage, when she would share something that was bothering her, I would jump out like a relational Bob the Builder with, “Can we fix it? Yes, we can!” For example, she once shared a problem she was having with a co-worker. I followed up with, “Maybe you should have a straightforward conversation with her. I know that is not easy for you, but it may be worth the discomfort to change things long-term.” 

From a logical standpoint, that could have been sound advice. And it was even coming from a good place. I hated she was having a tough time. I wanted to help her. But from a relational standpoint, advice was not her desire. So she got frustrated and told me why she couldn’t do what I suggested. Then I made it about me, got frustrated with her for not valuing my opinion, and this started an argument. 

While the topics were different, this was the sequence of most of our fights in our early years: her emotional distress, me trying to fix it, her getting frustrated, me getting frustrated she didn’t value my opinion, and arguments ensued. 

 Then one day she said something huge: 

“I don’t need you to fix this, I need you to feel this.” 

What she was wanting from me was empathy. When she feels emotions of any kind, she needs me to see her and get her. I was putting way too much weight in the power of advice and way too little in the power of empathy.


Kathleen Notes: Empathy is crucial to any relationship.

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- - Volume: 11 - WEEK: 2 Date: 1/12/2023 12:10:20 PM -