Image Courtesy of jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Empathy is a bond, like a bow and arrow where it takes two to tango in a love based relationship.
Having empathy for your partners situation really helps in strengthening a love based relationship, and the bonds you two have together. It does not matter whether you're married or simply dating. Having empathy is everything.
Too often many people get a little cranky at their partner for not spending enough time with them, and especially when (thank you murphy's law) their partner is going through a rough time. A time where they need you to stay strong, and to muse your empathy more than ever. Such testing times could be a job loss; death and/or illness of a family member; or your partner is being sued to name. This is when the universe is really testing your partnership, and once you come out trumps at the end, the goodies do await.
It is important to acknowledge another's suffering. Your partner is a real human being with feelings and emotions, just like you.
The best ways to express your empathy for your partner's situation:
1. Listen to them. Really listen to them. Put that mobile phone aside when having lunch with them, and really look them in the eye. No hand holding. The latter could act as a negative anchor in this situation. Allow them to express how they're really feeling. At this point do not judge, and do not say anything at all.
2. Really mean what you say back to them with authenticity. The way you say "I am so sorry to hear that" makes the world of difference. Don't smile, and don't kiss or say I love you. There is a time and place for everything.
3. Positive reinforcement. This is everything. Instead of just blurting out the words "I love you" to them; configure these powerful words in a sentence. For example "I know it is a testing time for you right now, yet I know you'll be able to see this through. This is why I love you because you're such a loving person to these people." Or something along those lines.
4. When your partner is ready to hold hands with you, then go with the flow and hold hands with them in return. Taking them to the park to allow their presence to shine back onto you, and to put some perspective around their problem really helps. You're that wonderful shoulder for them to lean on. Sex has a time and a place. In an authentic relationship, it is also about showing your empathy for another human being - your partner.
5. Space. Give them some space to just be. If their family is not well, give them space to spend some extra time with their family in resolving such situations as best as possible. This allows you some much needed space outside of the relationship, otherwise everyone will suffocate. That is not healthy.
For some people, it may be perceived to be the case that empathy applies the brakes on the progress of a love based relationship, yet in actuality it is still progress.