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  • Writer's pictureKaryl Vassilaros

Building Empathy in Marriage: A Two-Way Street and a Skill to Develop

Updated: Jun 26

Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another which both attracts and heals. — J. Isham


Over the years, as I have worked with couples, one of the biggest complaints wives have is that they feel their husbands are not emotionally connected. They feel their husband either doesn't care enough or that their husband is not empathetic.


This article is written to break down this concept and provide an easier method to approach and build empathy effectively in your marriage.


Empathy is a two-way street. By sharing your own feelings and experiences, you create a space where your wife feels comfortable doing the same.


Your goal is to help her feel more connected because you opened up and shared your thoughts and feelings.


NOTE: Sharing feelings and developing empathy is not just for the difficult or negative feelings. When you share your positive feelings about the day, about shared memories, about how you feel about your wife, or even little moments from your past, you are building the sense of connection and relatability that is empathy.


 By sharing your own feelings and experiences, you create a space where your wife feels comfortable doing the same.
Empathy is a two-way street.

However, if your shared feelings come with any expectation or demand that she needs to solve, resolve, or act in a certain way, it doesn’t create more connection but rather widens the gap where she feels disconnected, alone, and emotionally unsafe.


While there will be times when you need to work

through issues and find solutions together,

building empathy requires a different approach.


The True Goal of Sharing Feelings With Your Spouse

The key is to share your feelings without expecting your wife to fix them.
Sharing Feelings With Spouse

The key is to share your feelings without expecting your wife to fix them.


She will feel that you’re willing to support her when she’s sharing her feelings and when you’ve open to being supported by her when you share yours.


Empathy thrives in an environment where feelings are shared without the pressure of immediate solutions.


Here is an example of how this might look: If you come home and say, "It was a rough day today," and simply share what you recognized you were feeling, your wife will feel more connected and closer to you. But if you follow that with, "It was a rough day today, I need you to…," she may feel less able to connect and more likely to feel overlooked and put upon.


Voluntary Acts of Support

When she feels your pain and responds out of her own desire to support you, it strengthens your bond.
Empathy and Connection

Women tend to naturally nurture and they often thrive when showing love, having the choice to serve and enhance life for others. But, it is often most meaningful when it is a voluntary act.


When your wife chooses to nurture you because she sees you’re struggling, it’s a genuine act of empathy. When she feels your pain and responds out of her own desire to support you, it strengthens your bond. When she feels she HAS TO help you, HAS TO respond, HAS TO fix, she does not feel more secure and connected in the relationship, but will feel more frustrated and even exhausted in the relationship with you.


Avoiding Barriers to Empathy and Connection

When you act bothered by your own negative feelings, it puts a barrier in the way of connecting emotionally with your wife.
Barriers to Connection

When you act bothered by your own negative feelings, it puts a barrier in the way of connecting emotionally with your wife.


Instead, acknowledge your feelings without letting them become a source of irritation. This openness creates an inviting space for shared empathy.


SECRET to Successful Empathy

Take every opportunity to share moments that have emotional power.
Sharing a secret.

Women tend to be drawn to others who they emotionally relate to. Marriage provides a powerful opportunity to deliberately create emotional connections.


Take every opportunity to share moments that have emotional power.


Seek out moments

  • to feel exhilarated

  • to laugh together

  • to feel with and for each other

  • to look back on memories and recall how happy you were when you were doing that thing together.

When you go on dates take a few minutes, on the way home...

  • to talk about how you enjoyed it

  • what you loved about it...

  • and let her share those same things with you.


 

Practical Tips

  1. Share Without Expectations: When you share your day’s challenges, do so without expecting your wife to fix them. Just let her know how you felt.

  2. Be a Buffer: Show her that you can support her feelings without trying to solve everything. Listen, empathize, and offer comfort.

  3. Invite Her Empathy: Allow her to nurture and support you on her own terms. When you’re open and honest, she’ll feel more connected and willing to share her empathy.

  4. Stay Positive: Acknowledge your feelings, but don’t let them turn into a source of frustration. Maintain a positive tone that invites connection rather than creating distance.



 

Conclusion

Building empathy in marriage is about creating a space where both partners feel comfortable sharing their feelings without the pressure of immediate solutions.
Comfortable with Each Other

Building empathy in marriage is about creating a space where both partners feel comfortable sharing their feelings without the pressure of immediate solutions. It’s about supporting each other and allowing voluntary acts of empathy to strengthen your bond. By practicing these principles, you can transform your marriage into a relationship built on deep, mutual understanding and emotional connection.


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