Compassion might just be the last lesson we learn in being able to relate in a healthy way in our relationships; it should be the first.
To show compassion in your marriage requires you to practice patience, step outside of self, and remember this partnership isn’t just about you. Tricky slope, right? This is a tough marital concept to accept, because there are absolutely going to be moments where you won’t agree with your spouse. There are going to be times when things are done in a manner that you would never consider… and if/when it does go sideways, your initial reaction is going to be “I told you so”. You will need to learn how to look past the surface aspects of these situations, in order to develop compassionate behaviours.
One of the greatest challenges you will come across is learning to keep your ‘rightful’ opinion on any given situation to yourself. If you're anything like me, you have an opinion about everything, right or wrong and have most likely shared it, on occasion... or two. Learn from my mistakes, and just don’t. Not everything situation requires your input. More often than not, in the throes of trial and error, it’s your compassion, not your opinion that will matter most. With everything there is a consequence, and I'm going to wager on the fact that the consequence of compassion is going to deliver more to your marriage, then the sharing of your opinion.
Mind your temper, ego and righteousness. Ask. Listen. Stop.
True compassion requires acceptance, not advice.
You will need to learn to respond with care, over and over and over and over again. We all break and for a variety of different reasons. The energy and emotion behind our pains/reasons, cannot be felt the same way by someone else, and yet there is an expectation that ‘you’re my other half, you should understand me! You should understand why I’m feeling these exact emotions.”
Impossible. Upbringing, experiences, temperament, personality, the list is endless as to why not. We are not in a position to understand our partners exact emotions. We can only comprehend on the macros level of emotion.
A) You’re angry because you lost your job. I can understand that.
B) You’re angry and and lost a grand at the casino out of frustration? Nope, now I'm angry. This is not how I would have handled it, how dare you put us in this situation.
See what just happened there? You’ve just made this about you. Take yourself out and make an effort to consider the situation before having an opinion about it. Minding your opinion will allow you the room to show compassion.
Consider this instead:
“I’m sorry, this situation sucks, what do you need from me?”
You can achieve this level of understanding by simply asking… what do you need from me right now?
On the flip side, you are going to also need to learn how to ask for understanding and compassion. Our initial reactions tend to be aimed at the ones we love the most. Our spouses are a convenient punching bag, and they’re supposed to just take it, right? Again, not true. They’re not supposed to just take your bad behaviour, and they can’t read your mind, so take a step back before lashing out. It's your turn to verbalize what you need. The faster you are at verbalizing what you need, the quicker you’re going to receive the compassion and loveStyle you require.
In the end, compassion can be delivered and received in three easy steps:
Keep it simple. Don’t provide or ask for a task list of compassionate deliverables.
Make the behaviour specific, and you'll minimize creative interpretation.
Be authentic with your emotion.
As an example - (sidenote - this literally just happened this morning). This morning, the manStar got kicked out of the gym at our daughter's basketball game. To circle back for a second, the miniStarlite wanted to be a part of this basketball Spring camp so she could hang out with a couple of friends that she doesn't play soccer with anymore. I was never for doing this to begin with, as we already have club soccer and everything else we seem to be busy with all the time. I also had a feeling that it was going to be a challenge, as we kinda knew the organizer, and it was poorly put together to begin with.
The session has been disappointing from the get go. After every practice/game, I really really really have
to work on keeping my mouth shut. This is their thing, not mine. So today, as per norm, the kids were kinda screwing around and not putting in any real effort. The ref wasn't doing anything about it, and the miniStarlite got hit in the head and knocked to the ground. We've already been on concession watch from earlier this week. Long story short, the manStar ended up on the court, which in turn ended up getting him kicked out of the gym. Sigh.
As soon as they got home, the manStar was like... "Let me explain." I thought he was just being funny, until I saw the look on his face. Absolute guilt. He felt so bad. He felt terrible for our daughter, he felt irresponsible about his actions towards the ref considering he's a coach himself and should know better. I just had to sit on the stairs and let him talk through his emotions. BELEIVE ME when I say I wanted to lay into him for getting involved, for embarrassing himself, our daughter, and for being the stereotypical angry black Dad. But, to what end? He needed me to listen, to be gentle and behave a certain way in front of our daughter. He needed me to make light of it. He needed my forgiveness. Five, six years ago, I would have laid into him for being such an idiot. Today, I showed him compassion and gave him a hug. When my daughter saw me do that, she went up to him and gave him a hug too.
I was able to do two things, show and teach the importance of compassion. The intensity of the emotion is over, and my husband can start to process and heal his feelings towards today's out burst without the added non-sense of my reaction and "I told you so" ego.
Simple and specific; these are the keys to successfully showing compassion. Today I listened and provided support through physical touch, which is very much his loveStyle.
How can you show more compassion in your relationship?
How do you want to be shown compassion?
Does your partner know what you need in terms of compassionate behaviours?
Share in the comments below.
Love and Light,
La Sweet Wife