Being able to empathize is one of the most
important relationship skills, especially
it comes to saving
I once heard it said that most mistakes children
make are not because of a lack of discipline; but
because of a lack of empathy. I think the same is
true if you're trying to save
marriage. If we would
only tune into how our spouse is feeling we'd
do half the stuff we do.
You've probably heard me say before that many
people keep making the same mistakes in their
marriage because although they're apologetic they
really don't appreciate the pain they caused
their spouse. Once we feel that pain, we're not
able to cause it anymore.
This week's exercise is one that my wife and I
worked on not only to save
my marriage but with
our kids too. It was once suggested by a
family counselor. It goes like this: next
having a disagreement, switch roles as early in
the disagreement as possible. In other words, you
argue your spouse's position and your spouse has
to argue yours.
Tonight was family night. We often take the kids
out for dinner to start. On the way we said,
"Where do you want to go?"
One of my children said, "I want Chinese."
Another other said, "Last time we went to Chinese
I got a tummy ache. I want Pizza."
You can imagine the conversation from there. It
wasn't pretty. So my wife and I jumped in and
asked them to switch roles. So the child who
wanted Chinese had to
articulate why Chinese was
the wrong choice and why pizza was a better
option. And the child who wanted Pizza had to do
the opposite. They started to appreciate each
other's feelings, especially the child who was
arguing for Chinese. It became difficult for them
to push for Chinese once they tuned into what it
would feel like to go to a Chinese restaurant
that made you sick last time.
Try this between you and your spouse. This week
when (if?) you encounter a point of contention,
switch roles and argue for each other. Notice how
this forces you to tune into each other's
feelings. Then try to resolve the matter after
you appreciate each other's perspective. I think
you'll find that it'll help save
your marriage and
divorce. This is the kind of exercise that you
might do if you went to a marriage family counselor.
Have a good week.
Author & Founder of Marriage Fitness
An Alternative to a Marriage Family Counselor