Compassionate people are happier people. Couples who are compassionate with one another have more joy and understanding in their relationships. Compassion, which is a combination of empathy, concern, kindness and consideration, is a cornerstone for those wanting a fulfilled love life.
When you are sad, a compassionate gesture from your mate can make all the difference in your mood. Warm hugs and words of encouragement take away a lot of discomfort. To have someone hold your hand -- offering emotional support by just being there for you -- can ease your pain, no matter what it is about.
Without compassion, a relationship can become harsher. When that happens, your interactions are less caring, and you may start to build resentments, which might make you feel that you are in the relationship by yourself.
Developing and expressing your compassion creates a safe zone for your love and for all the feelings and issues that may arise in your life. You cannot replace the soft touch of your partner and his or her sympathy with anything else. It is what heals you both, and it gives you much more emotional security than you may think.
Creating compassion is not difficult. First, it requires desire. You will want to ask your partner what his or her needs are in this area, as well as explain your own needs. Having this discussion will make being compassionate toward each other much easier, for you will know exactly where to focus your energy.
The next part is a little more challenging, as you will need to make the commitment to always maintain a dialogue in a compassionate manner. There is no room for harshness in a compassionate relationship. And if any such negative behavior does occur, you will both need to identify it and shut it down, so you can get back to relating in an appropriate manner.
A great and simple exercise to help enhance compassion is just to look into each other's eyes. This action has been highly romanticized in the movies, but it is seldom taken in modern relationships. We are usually looking at the television instead of each other. Looking deeply into the eyes of the one you love and sensing his or her emotions is going to create more depth and compassion.
Showing compassion is good, but being compassionate is even better. When your mate is sharing an issue with you and you demonstrate concern, you are making it known that you are not just there for your partner, but you also really care about what he or she is going through. Your mate will feel it and be able to return the gesture in kind.
Practice compassion as part of daily life. The good feelings you get from it will only make you want to have more. The depth you feel in your relationship, when you know how much your mate cares, is palpable. It changes the way you relate. You will become kinder and more considerate toward each other. And that is a plus for any couple.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com.)
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