Connect through Empathy – instead of fixing your partner

Empathy is the capacity for partners to connect with the feelings they are both experiencing.

Empathy is an essential part of any healthy relationship. It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.  When partners show empathy towards each other, it helps them build a strong connection and understanding that can last for years.

Showing empathy is not always easy, but with practice it can be learned.  Learning how to show empathy will help partners deepen their bond and improve their communication. There are many different ways to show empathy, such as active listening, expressing understanding, being supportive and showing compassion.

Focus on feelings, not facts.

When partners feel listened to and empathized with,
they’re more likely to continue to open up and share more,
which leads to more intimacy and closeness overall.

When partners feel shut down, not listened to, or told what they ‘should’ feel, this erodes their sense of closeness and stunts their emotional availability for each other.  They may function really well on the surface level, but underneath they may feel disconnected and quite separate.

When you and your partner really hear one another, without judgement, without trying to fix one another, to just be present and emotionally available, this is the empathy part that feels so good for you both.

Empathy is the capacity to feel with your partner. To understand their inner world and know what’s important to them. Because empathy is connecting to the feelings your partner is experiencing and this goes both ways.

Ways to strengthen empathy with your partner:

1.       Listen without judgement. So instead of going into ‘fix it mode’, slow down, and really listen to what your partner is saying. Remove any suggestions of how they ‘should’ be feeling.    To empathise with what your partner in a way that creates healing and closeness, you need to practice non-defensive listening, which requires you remain curious about your partner’s feelings instead of taking it personally or reacting in a way to defend yourself or assume responsibility for what your partner is saying.  This is easier said than done, however with slowing down and focusing on your partner will help to connect through curiosity and empathy rather than judgement or trying to fix their feelings.

2.       Look out for key feeling words, for example, they might say “I’m frustrated, sad, annoyed’.  Their feelings and perspectives are valid, just as yours are too.  Concentrate on their feelings, not facts.  Being rational about facts can inhibits empathy because it invalidates emotions.

3.       Get into your partner’s feelings. Try to attune yourself into what they’re going through. And if you’re struggling to do this, be curious and ask questions to help you understand, this also shows you’re interested.  Often what partner’s crave in their vulnerable moments is their partner to be present and supportive, to understand how they’re feeling.

4.       Summarise and validate.  By repeating back what your partner has said gives you a chance to summarise what you’ve heard and allows your partner to feel validated for their feelings.  It can be something like “I get you’d really like us to spend more time together’ or ‘I understand how you’d feel frustrated around that’.  

Another thing to remember about empathy, is that when you and your partner share something that has an emotional depth to it, whether it’s a situation, a concern or sharing of ideas, underneath all that is usually a longing to connect and to be supported by your partner, whether it’s to be heard, to be seen, to receive some words of reassurance or to hear a willingness to be involved or to debrief concerns without being fixed.

So next time when you and your partner are sharing some in-depth feelings, instead of trying to change or fix one another’s feelings, focus on connecting with your partner through empathy. 

Need help to delve into connecting through empathy in your relationship?

If you are seeking to deepen the way you connect with your partner, to have those meaningful conversations and be able to share a life together that involves quality time, reach out to work with Linda Kelly, Relationship Coach.

About Linda …

Linda is a Relationship Coach and Counsellor. Having worked with hundreds of couples and individuals over the years, Linda understands the complexities and challenges that couples experience today. 

Linda’s blend of coaching and counselling approach allows her to be more hands-on, supportive and directive, helping people to achieve results within themselves and in their relationship.

Linda Kelly Relationship Coach Couples Counsellor Online Brisbane Australia America Europe

Linda provides ‘Couples Coaching’, ‘Women’s Coaching’ and ‘Men’s Coaching’.

Linda also offers a ’12 week Couples Connection Program‘. This helps couples to rebuild their relationship, learn more about themselves and their partner, adapt new strategies towards closeness and live a life that is more aligned to their values and needs. If you want to know more or to book in your spot, book your Connection Call click here.

Based within the gorgeous Redcliffe Peninsula region, Brisbane Australia, Linda offers in-person and online Zoom sessions, both Australia-wide and Internationally.

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