How to Expand Your Capacity for Compassion in Your Marriage

Successful marriages are established and maintained by . . . COMPASSION.

By Amber Anderson

This post is part of a 10-part series celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, specifically the sentence, “”Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Amber has been my good friend and neighbor for the past four years and wow, I’m blown away by her post.  I feel like all the good marriage advice given on this blog somehow is summarized in Amber’s post.  Awesome stuff like how to really listen to your spouse, appreciate their feelings, see things from their point of view, pray for them, pray for compassion.  Guys, if we follow this advice, we will be SET!     – Celeste

PS  Today is actually and officially the 20th anniversary of the Family Proclamation!  Happy birthday Proclamation!  Celebrate by posting a picture of your family on social media with the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation

PSS  Another awesome giveaway of your choice of any three prints from Wild Berry Road at the end of the post!


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Compassion in our families, specifically within our marriage, is not something that just happens. How does compassion strengthen my marriage? Does it strengthen my marriage? Well, I have to say, what I know about compassion in a marriage—and don’t dismiss this as cliché or mushy—I’ve learned from my husband.

When I asked my husband what he thinks of compassion and if it’s important to our marriage, his response was, “Yes.” But nothing more. He doesn’t think about being compassionate. He just is. He always shows me compassion, and it really helps me feel more at ease. I don’t feel like I’m trying to prove myself, or live up to some ridiculous standard, or pretend like everything is always gumdrops and sparkles. A few examples:

  • I have hard pregnancies that leave me practically useless for about 5 months. My husband picks up the slack, takes care of the house, the children, and me, without complaining. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him groan when he has to hold the bowl for me as I throw up, or clean up any messes. He’s never complained about having to cook me crazy sounding meals, or go get me one thing from the store because it’s what I need. I could go on and on with this list, but you get the idea. It’s not pretty. But he always shows more concern for me than for himself.
  • Dinner not cooked: “Fine, let’s just eat pancakes!”
  • House not clean: “It’s okay, you played with the kids today.”
  • Discouragement with my imperfect self: “I love you.”
  • Lose my cool: “Just keep trying. How can I help?”

 

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His compassion strengthens me, which in turn strengthens my trust, love, and compassion for him. So, you see, it strengthens our marriage (key question answered: yes!)

Just because it does strengthen our marriage, doesn’t mean it’s a strength for me. I struggle with showing compassion for my husband. I have to pray for it, sometimes even within the moment. So, I’m no expert. I’m just trying to grow and better myself, in turn bettering and strengthening my marriage.

Some ways I try to show compassion for my husband:

  • When he’s worried about something or upset about something from work, I try to listen and appreciate his feelings.
  • When he’s tired, I try to help him relax, or in the least, let him feel at liberty to relax (and in his own way).
  • When we disagree, I really try to understand his perspective and opinion.
  • He doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve, so often my compassion is simply understanding his obligations and doing what I can to ease his stress level before it gets too high. Because if he’s talking about it, then it’s already too high! (Your spouse might be a bit more vocal.)

We are two different people. We feel compassion differently, and I think we both need compassion shown in different ways.

4 Ways to Show More Compassion in Your Marriage 

Here’s what I’ve gleaned from my husband’s wonderful example. How to be compassionate, even if the other person isn’t reciprocating, or you aren’t sure what they’re feeling, or what they need.

1)     Love them.

Love who they are, now. Don’t be upset that they’re not what you want them to be, or what you think they could be or should be. Just love them. Frozen says it best, “Throw a little love their way, and you’ll bring out their best!” Say it, show it with little notes, speak their love language.

2)     Listen to them.

Some people don’t wear the emotions on their sleeves. That can make it hard to know what they’re feeling and what they need. So listen. A small comment about a stressful day might be the only insight you have to giving them some leeway. Or the mentioning of a big project or responsibility might actually be a declaration of an overwhelmed spouse. Compassion is having empathy, pity, and concern. Can you feel that way if you don’t know what someone is experiencing? You can’t have compassion for someone if you don’t see the world through their eyes. It helps a lot if you allow them to paint a picture for you, rather than trying to imagine it all on your own. Along those same lines, don’t negate their concerns. It might not be something you’d be worried about, but if your spouse is worried about it, then you can practice showing that care and concern for them.

3)      Pray for them and for yourself.

Even if you’re not the praying type, consciously work the thought process in your mind. But if you are, work that thought process and plead for heavenly help to bless your spouse and aid you as you attempt to enlarge your compassion for the person you are committed to love. You’ll see miracles in yourself, in your spouse, and in your marriage.

4)     Do something.

The scriptures often use the phrase “moved by compassion” or “moved with compassion” or “moved to compassion.” Once we feel compassion, it’s still just warm fuzzies unless we act on it, unless it causes us to move. It’s one thing to hear your spouse say, “Wow, I have so many dishes to do tonight!” and you respond by showing sympathy, “oh yes, you do!” But that doesn’t mean you’re showing compassion. You need to respond with action. Help with the dishes, or just do them. I’m not saying you have to take over all chores, but be aware of what you can do to not just feel compassion, but to show it.

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I’m trying to improve my compassion every day because I know how much it strengthens me when I’m shown compassion. If you better yourself and your capacity for compassion, and see your spouse in a softer light and better light because of those feelings, then your marriage will be better and stronger too.


If you are enjoying this series on my blog, be sure to check out the other awesome blogs participating in this series:CranialHiccups and Being LDS

You can also share your love of family by sharing photos online this month under the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation.

********************* GIVEAWAY*********************

Enter to win three digital prints of your choice from Wild Berry Road!

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The Wild Berry Road design shop is full of affordable digital prints perfect for so many spots in your home and they make great gifts as well. These designs are made to inspire and make you smile and hopefully find a little spot in your home to remind you of the power of words to inspire. Your can view our designs here www.thewildberryroad.etsy.com

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3 thoughts on “How to Expand Your Capacity for Compassion in Your Marriage

  1. Great post. Love the tip to have your spouse paint a picture for you to understand what they are going through more. A lot of times when we listen- we don’t really listen or we listen to critique, but listening to really understand is actually a really beautiful thing.

  2. “often my compassion is simply understanding his obligations and doing what I can to ease his stress level” If everyone did this there would be far fewer divorces!

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