You love your husband and you know he’s a great guy. But sometimes you wish he could be a little more compassionate. You know, especially when your menstrual cycle gets the better of you. Or, when you come home after a stressful day and he just doesn’t seem to get it or feel your pain.
But that doesn’t mean he’s hopeless. It just means he needs your loving guidance to help him be more compassionate.
And here’s how to work some magic.
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What is compassion?
According to Tris Thorp, a lifestyle and leadership coach, “Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
Now, that might sound pretty intense, and hopefully, most days aren’t filled with sorrow and misfortune.
However, daily life is full of its ups and downs, and it’s so important for your life partner to be with you through both. Not just the good, but the bad, too. And compassion is how your husband can be there for you through thick and thin.
Why compassion is so important
We’ve all heard that communication is one of the most important factors for a happy and successful relationship. But compassion is a key factor for a happy marriage, too. And there are so many reasons for this.
Communication is necessary, but it doesn’t do much good to communicate with your partner, only to feel judged, criticized, dismissed or misunderstood afterward.
But if your partner practices compassion, he can give you a safe space to speak your truth even if he doesn’t agree, approve or get it.
This can be as simple as wiping snow off the windshield or setting aside your plans to make your partner happy. In short, compassion puts you in your partner’s shoes and helps you act in a way that best supports them at that time.
Another reason why compassion is important is that it allows couples to prioritize their partner and act in selfless ways – all to make the other person as comfortable as possible.
But compassion doesn’t just serve the other person. In a study published In the journal Emotion, researchers found that “The emotional benefits of compassionate acts are significant for the giver, whether or not the recipient is even aware of the act.”
So, even if your partner doesn’t notice the compassionate act you do for him, there’s a good chance that simply doing them makes you feel better.
Why your husband struggles with compassion
To say that your husband – or any other man – struggles with compassion isn’t a slight against them.
Instead, it’s a way to talk about some important difference between the male and female brains, and how these gender differences impact our ability to be compassionate.
The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.
However, due to the differences in male and female brains, it’s simply more natural for women to be compassionate.Of course, compassion is possible for men and women alike.
According to the author of The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain, brain scientist, Simon Baron-Cohen, writes, “The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.”
Now, of course, Baron-Cohen is talking about averages rather than absolutes. Therefore, there’s always wiggle room, and some men may be more empathetic than others, and vice versa.
However, it’s important to remember that in general, a woman will focus on feelings. A man will focus on problem-solving and saving the day.
And while that’s great, women often need to feel heard, understood and loved. And sometimes, in their attempts to save the day, men can leave women feeling a bit let down. But there are lots of ways to help your husband be more compassionate.
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7 way to help your husband be more compassionate
Now, no one likes to be condescended to, talked down to, or made to feel small. And if you take the dominant position and “teach” your husband how to be more compassionate, you’ll probably get in your own way.
Instead, teach by example. And whenever possible, ask him to do what you do, not because what you do is “better,” but because it would make you feel loved and important to him.
(Hint: guys like to make their ladies feel loved and important!)
Pause for the cause
We live in such a fast-paced world that we just go, go, go. But when you’re with your partner, can you pause and be present?
This means putting away your cell phone and turning off the TV. That way, you can tune into him and be aware of what’s going on.
How you give affection depends on your relationship, but whatever you do, give affection every day – several times per day, in fact!
It’s not what you say, but how you say it that can have the most lasting impact. It might not be easy, but hold your tongue, check your shocked expression, and above all, be kind.
Show gratitude and appreciation
If your partner does something nice for you or has just been through a lot, praise him and thank him for doing so. This is a powerful way to show compassion.
As a woman, you may need to vent, unwind and rant about everything that’s stressing you out. If that’s the case, ask your husband if he can simply listen to you. Being a nonjudgmental presence for you can be a great act of compassion on his part.
Be compassionate by letting your partner be himself. Criticism, judgmental comments, and snide remarks hurt. Plain and simple.
And if your husband feels emotionally safe with you, chances are, he’ll create the same space for you, too.
Take care of yourself
This might seem contradictory, but the truth is, if you don’t take care of yourself and only take care of your partner, you’ll get burned out and end up bitter and resentful. And how can you expect to give compassion this way?
Along the same vein, how can you expect your husband to give you compassion when he’s burned out and exhausted?
So, encourage your husband to take care of himself, too. After a long day at work, give him the time and space he needs to unwind. If you know having drinks with his friends would do him good, don’t guilt trip him for this.
Just make sure it works both ways so you get to take care of yourself, too.
By practicing compassion and encouraging your husband to do the same, you can create a more compassionate and happy marriage for both you and him.