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November 27, 2023

Why is Empathy so Important in Marriage

Why is Empathy So Important in Marriage?


What is Empathy?

Relationship researchers and marriage help professionals agree: Empathy is a component that is vitally important, and yet sadly lacking, in many marriages. So, the first question is, “What is empathy?”  The dictionary definition is: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” (Merriam-Webster). It is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.


We often think of empathy—people’s ability to share and understand each other’s experiences—as a hard-wired trait, but it’s actually more like a skill. The right experiences, habits and practices can increase our empathic capacity …—Jamil Zaki


Why is Empathy Important?

Why is empathy so important in my marriage?”   Simply stated, empathy is crucial in a marriage because it fosters understanding, connection, and support between spouses.  Without it, spouses become disconnected and dissatisfied and may even look for unhealthy ways or habits to meet their emotional needs.


Benefits and Practices of Empathy

Why is Empathy so Important in Marriage


·      Emotional Support

One of the most neglected, yet most important, dynamics of emotional support in relationship is validation.  Validation does not mean that you must agree with your partner, rather, it means that you value them and your relationship and are therefore interested in what they have to say.  Their feelings and their perspectives are of interest to you because you want to understand them and where they are coming from.  Validation helps to create a safe space where individuals and share their feelings without fear of judgement.  This kind of understanding and emotional support helps to create a strong bond between partners. For this reason, a marriage retreat or marriage seminar will almost always teach how to practice validation for each other.


·      Effective Communication

It is possible to communicate more effectively when you practice active listening to understand each other’s perspectives.  Listen to learn about your partner and their feelings.  Repeat what they have said and ask questions to clarify that you “get it.” Don’t talk over each other but take turns and make sure that you each feel heard.  Once you feel heard and validated, it is much easier to attack a problem- not each other- and resolve conflicts and find win-win solutions.


·      Strengthening the Relationship

Being empathetic toward each other helps couples to deepen their emotional connection and to build intimacy in all areas of their relationship.  It creates a bond of love in which each partner feels loved and cared for. This is a result of their partner making a sincere effort to understand their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  There is not a feeling of being “alone” in the marriage, but of being unconditionally loved and accepted for who they are.


·      Building Trust

Trust is the cornerstone for a solid marriage.  And how do you build trust?  You build it with honesty, caring, and consistency over time.  The more that your partner proves themself loving and understanding of you, the more that you trust them.  If they are consistently making the effort to see and feel things from your perspective, the safer you feel with them. And the safer you feel, the more you trust.  As you each share your vulnerabilities, the deeper your level of intimacy and connection becomes.  A marriage seminar can help you break down walls that may come from broken trust, however, to rebuild trust takes time and effort, so don’t give up!


·      Effective Conflict Resolution & Problem Solving

This was touched on above, but empathy is essential during conflicts as it allows partners to see things from each other’s perspective. By understanding their partner’s emotions and needs, couples can find compromises and resolutions that satisfy both parties, rather than focusing solely on their individual desires. It is a way to be selfless and to respect and value each other, even when you don’t agree. It enables you to find common ground and workable solutions that benefit and satisfy you both if each of you are willing to compromise, negotiate, and sacrifice when necessary.  Knowing that your partner “gets you” makes it easier to make the adjustments that you need to make because you “get them”, too.  Empathy helps couples approach problem-solving with a collaborative mindset. By understanding and appreciating each other’s perspectives, partners can work together to find creative solutions that meet both of their needs, rather than getting stuck in a cycle of blame or defensiveness.


·      Emotional Resilience

Empathy helps couples navigate difficult times together. When partners are there for each other emotionally, they can provide the support for each other to cope with stress and challenges that are inevitable in life.  The highs and lows begin to level out – the highs aren’t so high, and the lows aren’t so low- because you are emotionally stronger with an empathetic, understanding partner by your side.


·      Promotes Individual Growth

Empathy gives partners the ability to be genuinely supportive and encouraging of each other’s personal growth and development. When partners can empathize with each other’s dreams, goals, and struggles, they can provide the necessary support and understanding to help each other thrive. No one achieves goals or worthwhile accomplishments in life without encouragement and practical help along the way.  If you are empathetic, you can be the main cheerleader and helper for your spouse. Love Recon, the four-day experience, is a marriage seminar that addresses both personal and marriage growth and healing.


·      Prevents Resentment and Misunderstandings

Empathy acts as a safeguard against building resentment and misunderstanding in a marriage. When partners consistently practice empathy, they are less likely to make assumptions or misinterpret each other’s actions, reducing the chances of conflicts escalating and causing long-term damage to the relationship.


·      Creates a Positive Emotional Climate

Empathy contributes to a positive emotional climate within the marriage. When partners consistently demonstrate empathy, kindness, and understanding, it creates a nurturing environment where both individuals feel valued, loved, and respected.


·      Models Empathy for Children

If the marriage involves children, practicing empathy sets a positive example for them to follow. Seeing their parents empathize with each other teaches children the importance of understanding, compassion, and healthy communication in relationships.

In summary, empathy is essential in a marriage because it promotes understanding, effective communication, trust, emotional support, and intimacy. It helps couples navigate challenges, resolve conflicts, and grow together. By practicing empathy, partners create a loving and supportive environment that strengthens their connection and contributes to a happy and fulfilling marriage.

Love Recon offers resources and opportunities for both personal growth and marriage help. 

Contact us today for more information.

LoveRecon.Org; or 866-218-1716 or email Lisa at lisa@loverecon.org 

About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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