How Empathy Saved My Marriage
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Denise Fitzpatrick

How Empathy Saved My Marriage

I consider myself a pretty empathic person. ​ I’m a therapist after all. ​ I’d make a pretty lousy therapist if I didn’t have empathy. ​ ​

Yet when it came to my marriage. ​ Empathy was NOWHERE to be found. ​

I mean sure, it was there in the beginning. ​ It is in all new relationships, at the falling in love stage. ​ It’s easy then. ​

It was much harder to feel empathy when I was knee deep in anger and resentment that has built up over the years. ​

Years of feeling like I was “trying”, yet nothing was changing. ​

What I wasn’t able to see at the time was that I was being the worst version of myself in my approach towards my husband…..and yet, at the time, I really believed I was the only one trying.

It was so hard for me to see that the demanding, critical version of me was actually pushing away the very thing I wanted.

​Do you ever notice that we tend to treat the people we love the most, the worst?

​This is a common problem I see with many of the clients I work with. ​ ​

They get so focused on WHAT THEY WANT and how they’re not getting it. ​ ​ That they can’t see that the way they are going about it IS what’s making it so difficult for their partner to give to them.

They aren’t aware of how their partner is experiencing them or how they are being impacted by the complaints and criticism. ​

And so your partner, on the receiving end, is feeling like they can never do anything right. ​

When people feel this way, they actually STOP TRYING. ​ They figure, no matter what I do it’s not going to be good enough so why bother.

For example, say you want more quality time with your partner but instead of telling them you miss them and want to spend time together. ​

You tell them, “you never makes me a priority, you never have time for me, you always do this, I can’t count on you to be there”.

Criticism, complaint and demands are ways you, perhaps unknowingly, try to get more of what you want. ​ ​

But let’s face it, NO ONE responds well to being criticized. ​ No one feels motivated to give when they are repeatedly criticized. ​ ​

You may think, I’m just telling them what I want. ​ And it is true. ​ You are telling them what you want. ​

But in a way that makes it impossible for your partner to want to do the things you’re asking for.

And as a successful woman, running her own business, caring for your family, you wonder why can’t someone take care of me once in a while. ​ Why do I have to do everything all the time? ​ Why does my partner NOT see that? ​

A partner that sees you, supports you, and treats you like the goddess you are. ​

​But first…… you have to be aware of HOW YOU ARE GETTING IN YOUR OWN WAY.

How a single focus and a lack of empathy keep you stuck in this painful pattern.

I know. ​ Years ago I was exactly where you may be right now. ​

So how did I turn things around in my marriage to become the happiest I’ve ever been?

After some years of being stuck in these same kinds of patterns, I eventually started to not feel good about who I was being as a partner. ​

My grumpy, critical, negative, frustrated mood was not only taking a toll on my marriage it was taking a toll on ME. ​

I didn’t want to feel this way either, any more than my husband wanted me to be nagging at him all the time. ​

That’s when I told myself it was time for a change. ​

And it was the first time I started to think about, like really think about, how my actions, words, behavior was impacting my husband. ​

I really thought about what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of what I was dishing out. ​

Now remember, I’m an empathic person, so when I really allowed myself to think about this, it completely changed the game for me. ​

⚡ I started to put myself in his shoes and appreciate how it must have felt for him to feel like he was always being criticized and no matter what he did it was always wrong or never good enough. ​

I started to soften, I was less angry, and honestly, I felt some guilt that I’d been this way for so long.

Recognizing that changed the game for me AND for my marriage.


Once I was aware of this, there was no going back. ​ I started to really think about what I was going to say and how I was going to say it. ​

It helped me tune into my husband and really want to understand him instead of justifying and defending my position all the time. ​

I was able to see his efforts and not just dismiss everything he was doing. ​

Instead of only focusing on what I wasn’t getting I started to notice all the ways he was already giving to me that I was NOT paying attention to. ​

By The simple act of noticing positive aspects of my partner and our marriage, I felt so much better. ​

Empathy truly is the bridge to intimacy. ​

And it can easily get lost in long term marriages. ​

And so that’s one of the important skills that I help my clients with in my 12 week marriage mastery program.

The lack of empathy, the lack of being able to recognize how your behavior and words have an impact on your partner will keep you disconnected. ​ ​

So this is a must if you want to reconnect to love and appreciation for your spouse. ​

What does empathy do for an intimate relationship?
It heals, it connects, it softens, it accepts.
It’s the magic elixir.
It can quickly eliminate the cycles of conflict and disconnection.

The power of empathy cannot be underestimated.

To bring empathy back to your marriage I help my clients move out of a self focused perspective to considering the relationship as a whole instead of a you against me. ​

Realizing that you are a part of the pattern and you are also having an impact on your partner. ​ ​

I help you unpack the negative labels and your preconceived ideas and judgments about your partner that prevent you from seeing the full story of your relationship.

You learn to connect with yourself again and bring awareness to how you’re showing up. ​

Not from a place of blame or judgement but simply being aware so that you can choose to do it differently. ​

You learn new ways of communicating so criticism, complaints and demands are replaced with requests, acknowledgment and appreciation.

I teach you how to listen to your partner is a whole new way. ​ Without defending, without righteousness, without judgement. ​

Because when you are defending, being judgy and righteous you CAN’T possibly feel empathy or feel connected to your spouse. ​

These are skills that take time to learn and require a willingness to look at how you can improve your response to your partner even when you don’t like or don’t agree with what they say or do. ​

We all have a deep need to feel heard and understood and when we do, we can’t help but feel close and connected to the other person. ​

When you make these changes, your partner will naturally be more responsive to you. ​ You are way more likely to have them want to do the things you request. ​

​This is the work of creating a fulfilling, thriving, satisfying marriage for life. ​

It’s not the quick fix. ​ It’s not “our marriage will be better when they change”. ​

That simply doesn’t work, which you’ve probably already discovered.

If you’ve been on the path for a while and you’ve not been able to create lasting sustainable change, you likely need a different approach.

An approach that has you solving the fight of the week or efforting to get your partner to do the things you want….keeps you spinning your wheels.

Things always revert back to the same old same old. ​

My MARRIAGE MASTERY approach is different in that the focus is on changing the patterns, not the person!​

You definitely can influence your partner, when you shift they will shift. ​

But TRYING TO CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE is an exercise in futility. ​

PATTERNS, you can change them. ​

When each person is focused on changing their part. ​

And if you’re doing this work alone that’s ok too. ​

Because, like I said, if you shift they will shift. ​
So even if you’re the only one working on making a shift you will absolutely see a shift in your relationship dynamics and patterns.

So what do you say?

Does your marriage need a dose of empathy? ​

If you’re looping in circles you need a new approach, I can show you exactly what you can do to turn your marriage around and rekindle the love and connection you once shared. ​

If interested send me a message. ​ Let me know how long you’ve been married, what you’ve already done to try and fix things and how you want your marriage to be different.

If it sounds like something I can help you with we can schedule a call to get you started in my 12 week coaching program.

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