If My Spouse Has a Problem, Then So Do I: Why Compassion is Important in Marriages

BY: - 18 Sep '12 | Intimacy

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When we first got married, my kids and I moved to the DC area which is where my husband is from. Within 5 months, I was pregnant with our first child together and my third child overall. And I had been working from home for a few years, so I was really feeling lonely way out in the suburbs of DC. I was in a new city, away from my family and friends, I was pregnant and full of emotions, and it was not pretty.

One day, my husband shared with me that he had lunch with some of his colleagues which happen to be mostly women. And I had a serious problem with it. I don’t know where my feelings of mistrust came from. He NEVER gave me any reason to mistrust him. He never did anything that was remotely inappropriate or that would cause me to wonder about him. Yet, I felt strongly about him not having lunch with women I did not know.

I argued with him about it frequently. At first he became angry with me because he really did not do anything to deserve my lack of trust. But eventually, he decided to be more sensitive with me and the feelings that I was having – not because he did anything wrong…but because he loved me and saw that I was struggling. Eventually, I was able to see that the problem was all mine – stemming from my feelings of loneliness in the house, my baggage from past relationships, and probably my hormones. I even realized that my field was a male dominated. And that when I work in the office. I am normally the only woman and I do eat lunch with my colleagues.

Having compassion for one another is a marital tool that my husband and I have learned to use in our marriage. Having compassion means that you feel sympathy for a person and you want to do something to help them in their time of need.

So why is it that I have seen so many couples having a lack of compassion for each other:

  • purposely saying things to hurt their spouse’s feelings and then when your spouse admits to being hurt…you rub it in even more
  • delighting in the fact that your spouse has come upon hard times at work or in their other relationships with family or friends.
  • allowing your spouse to struggle with finances or some other personal issue, while you are doing great. Because after all, it’s not your problem…it’s theirs.

The National Healthy Marriage Institute says that: “Compassion is a tool that can help you extinguish anger, motivate you to help your spouse and understand your spouse’s perspective.”  Here are a few more tips they want you to know about having compassion for your spouse:

  • “The key to tapping into your compassion is to change your focus from what You are feeling to what your SPOUSE must be feeling.”  Instead of feeling angry or hurt with your spouse, try putting yourself in their shoes and to think of how you would feel if the tables were turned.
  • “Know that you can’t fix everything for your spouse.”  Sometimes there is nothing that you can do to change the situation.  But you can still be a support system for your spouse as they struggle with their issue.
  • “Make sure you find the right balance between helping your spouse and having them become totally dependent on you.”  Because we love our spouses, we want to make things easy for them.  But don’t be an enabler.  You want to be supportive and you want your spouse to be able to handle their issues.
  • As you become more compassionate with each other, your level of emotional and physical intimacy with each other will be enhanced.   And that’s reason enough there for everyone to start being more compassionate with their spouses ASAP.

BMWK – Being compassionate with one another has the power to lift you both up.  Is this an area that you have struggled with?  Please provide us with examples of how compassion in your relationship has made your marriage stronger.


About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 528 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.


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6 WordPress comments on “If My Spouse Has a Problem, Then So Do I: Why Compassion is Important in Marriages

  1. Lorri

    The very idea of this is an awesome concept and one many couples abandon when things get tough. I think this is one way couples navigate trouble together instead of saying…..It’s your problem, you deal with it.

  2. April Dishon

    Great tips. Especially looking at the situation from your spuse’s perspective. I also love the fact that your husband had patience and flipped the script on you. “Love covers a multitude of sins”. His love exposed your wrong to yourself, lol. So funny how being loved makes us want to be more loving.

  3. Carolyn Hall-Lewis

    My husband and I are dealing with a lot of these issues! We are a blended family. As a couple we are not together at all! He has many female friends from as early as grade school (the women are not my friends) he sees nothing wrong with him giving himself like this (I do) he seems to have no problem; compassion no not for me not our marriage! We really need counseling but of course he won’t agree to it. Great info!

  4. Thedy

    This is great and I agree! May I add that the communicator has some control over the compassion they receive than the recipient of the communication. Often we don’t receive the compassion and understanding we seek when we speak because we don’t speak with compassion first. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes FIRST before you go to them to communicate the problem with them will help you communicate those negative feelings in a way that it can be received. That’s what I love about how the wife in this article discovered and what I had to figure out. When we communicate with compassion, it creates intimacy rather than destroy it.

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