How Self-Compassion Can Help Your Marriage

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By Caleb & Verlynda Simonyi-Gindele and Verlynda Simonyi-Gindele. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Compassion is probably something that you find harder to provide for yourself than for others. However, did you know that self-compassion can help your marriage? Yes, we often talk about what you could and should give to your spouse in marriage, but today we want to talk about the need for self-compassion and how beneficial that can be both for yourself and for your marriage. In Western culture, compassion is most commonly thought of as something that should be extended to others. In fact, most of what you will read nowadays about self-compassion finds its roots in Buddhist traditions where compassion to oneself is considered to be as important as one’s compassion to others. At OnlyYouForever, we operate out of a Christian worldview, and we think we can very easily point to a Biblical basis for self-compassion in the second greatest commandment that the Lord Jesus stated: love your neighbor as yourself. That little phrase, “as yourself” is the justification for taking a serious interest in self-compassion because your love for your neighbor (or your spouse!) is going to be based on this. What is Self-Compassion Self-compassion was first defined by psychologist Kristin Neff and she described it as “Kindness toward the self, which entails being gentle, supportive and understanding.”[1] So rather than harshly judging oneself for personal shortcomings, one offers oneself warmth and unconditional acceptance. The reason why this subject is worth addressing is that a growing body of research suggests that self-compassion is strongly associated with psychological health, and less anxiety and depression.[2] As well, Self-compassion is negatively correlated with depression, anxiety, and perfectionism, and is positively correlated with life satisfaction.[3] Research also indicates that self-compassion is associated with better emotional coping skills, greater ability to repair negative emotional states, and generally a more positive state of being.[4] You can imagine how those things can all benefit marriage as well. How Self-Compassion Can Benefit Your Marriage A recent study from 2018 looked at the effects of self-compassion on romantic relationships.[5] The students involved in the study who reported higher levels of self-compassion tended to report having higher quality romantic relationships. Now, one of the limitations of the study was that it was done on young people in romantic relationships who were in undergraduate students in university. Nevertheless, the results are worth considering for anyone in a romantic relationship/marriage. So, why does self-compassion lead to greater satisfaction in relationships? One reason is that people with higher self-compassion are more aware of and able to meet their own needs for kindness and self-comfort. In a distressed marriage, a lot of the focus goes toward figuring out what your spouse needs so this may be a little counterintuitive. But, the ability to balance independence with connectedness, which is being able to observe and respond to your own needs as well as to your spouse’s, is important for healthy relationships. Another reason that individuals with high levels of self-compassion have stronger conflict resolution abilities is that self-compassion gives you more of an ability to see their spouse’s point of view during the disagreement as part of your common humanity rather than a personal hardship that is happening to you. In essence, it means you can love your spouse as yourself while in conflict. That’s a very powerful skill to have when working through conflict.[6] When to Use Self-Compassion Of course, with self-compassion one might simply say “use it everywhere,” but here are a few specific examples to consider. Compassion can be extended toward yourself when suffering occurs through no fault of your own, such as when the external circumstances of life are simply painful or difficult to bear.[7] For example,

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