Having trouble showing your partner empathy? Here’s a powerful exercise for the two of you to practice. Without discussing it with each other, write down a list of everything that causes your partner pain. What upsets him or her? What infuriates them? What makes them sad or distressed? When do they get anxious? If you’re in a medium to long-term relationship, you will know what pushes their buttons.
Once you’ve written your lists, show one another. How do you feel reading through the list that your partner wrote? Usually it feels fabulous to know that our partner understands us. If you can relate to what they have written about you, then they have done a wonderful job of showing empathy. That’s because they have taken themselves out of the equation and have only thought about you and your pain.
If you’re feeling up to it, why not make a second list that suggests ways in which you can minimise the times you trigger their pain. For example, if you know that your partner is easily embarrassed when you make jokes at his or her expense in public, then allow the empathy to flow and stop making the jokes. If you understand that your chronic lateness frustrates your partner, why not make a concerted effort to be more punctual?
We don’t have to change our personalities, but knowing that we have the power to lessen the pain for the person we love can only lead to a stronger and closer relationship.