Mark: Last night we spent time with some friends who are coming through a hard season of healing in their marriage. We spent the evening sharing with each other about lessons learned along the way.
Jill: The topic of compassion came up and we talked about the many different facets of compassion in marriage. Increasing compassion has been a big takeaway for me in our healing season.
Mark: Jill’s default is to fix rather than feel. I’m so grateful for how she’s grown in compassion and focuses more on feeling than she did before.
Jill: My friend Tammy Maltby shared with me, “Compassion is a choice. We must choose to see. We must choose to reach out to the other person and weep when they weep. We use our tears and pain to relate, to build a bridge into another person’s reality. It is one of God’s most powerful tools.”
Mark: I love the word picture of “building a bridge into another person’s reality.” That’s what compassion does in marriage!
Jill: Buck up spouses try to fix. Compassionate spouses try to feel. Compassion feels; it builds bridges. Compassion creates a sense of safety and security in your home and in the relationships that mean the most to you.
Mark: Compassion helps our spouse feel validated and loved. It also helps us to slow down, tune in, and really connect to those we love.
Jill: Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” When I think of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery, He modeled compassion for us.
Mark: Some personalities, mind styles, or temperaments lend themselves more to fixing. Others lend themselves more to feeling. Regardless of how you are wired, though, we must all learn to be more compassionate in our marriage.
Jill: Need some practical help? Here are three steps to increase compassion:
1) Focus on the feelings, not a solution. Respond with statements that draw your spouse out like, “Tell me more.”
2) Look at the situation from your spouse’s perspective. Remember that your spouse doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
3) Respond with empathetic statements. Say things like, “I bet that was so disappointing,” or “I’m sure that hurt your heart deeply,” or “That breaks my heart. I would imagine it broke yours,” or “I’m so sorry. I’m sure that was painful for you to experience.”
What about you? Where do you need to increase compassion in how you respond to your spouse?