In this article, we will go through the effects of being too lenient on our partner and what we can do within our control to remove stress and improve ourself alongside them.
I get a lot of people ask me about compassion and sympathy, specifically, what do they do when their partner wants to take too many days off or wants to have regular “cheat meals”. Do we push them or tell them it’s okay?
Hypothetically speaking, imagine your partner has openly spoken that they want to be a fitter, healthier or happier person. They have set goals about attending the gym, going for a morning walk or eating a more balanced diet. Losing 5kg by the summer, or shifting down a belt buckle.
As we are a loving, respecting and thoughtful partner, we want them to achieve the goal. Imagine how happy they will be and how much you’ll love being around them when achieve it and are so enthusiastic, happy and grateful for your motivation and support.
We are two weeks in and our partner is already feeling tired, exhausted and unfulfilled with their results after their new routine. Their constant excuses of “I’m tired” or “I just want a tub of ice cream” are becoming difficult to hear. Mainly because you know that these are completely valid reasons and emotions but you also know it could be their undoing of this great big goal they’ve set.
What do you do?
Sympathy Vs Compassion
Sympathy and compassion are two terms that sound very similar but in fact are quite different. They can be the reason why you and your partner achieve your goals or you don’t.
Sympathy is when you feel bad for someone but you just hope their suffering will be over.
Compassion begins with feeling bad, but ultimately Is about jumping into the trenches with them and having their back. Being willing to suffer alongside them to help them achieve their goals
Sympathy is telling them it’s okay if they skip the gym or eat another pack of Tim tams… Sympathy is allowing your kids to watch countless hours of videos on their tablet because you don’t want to see them cry.
Compassion is going to the gym with your partner to do the hard work too, or also adjusting your own diet to remove any temptations.
Compassion is reading a book to your kid or doing a puzzle or drawing to keep them stimulated.
There’s one thing to be sympathetic and another to be compassionate.
Sympathy is a short-term that generates a longer-term problem. In the short-term, you are dulling the pain, but also creating poor habits for whenever something difficult comes along. It’s okay to miss the one day, but the fourth time this week. And it’s a Tuesday. That’s not good.
Compassion is a short- and long-term solution to a problem. When you are presented with the suffering of doing exercise (yes, this can be suffering), does our partner really need someone to give them permission for the day off? Or do they want to know the struggle is validated and have someone in there with them, knowing them too, are working hard for something that is greater than themselves. By jumping in the trenches, they are giving some compassion but also ensuring that we both are looking beyond that extra 10 minutes of a sleep-in, but towards a better, healthier, happier version of ourselves.
Won’t They Hate Me?
Sympathy is great and needed when it’s required. It’s our responsibility of a partner to have a good understanding of when they need some sympathy.
According to research from Science Direct, “Sympathy is great and needed when it’s required. It’s our responsibility of a partner to have a good understanding of when they need some sympathy.”
You can find out more about healthy relationship in my previous article, The 3 Principles of a Meaningful and Purposeful Relationship.
What Do We Really Want?
That’s up to you.
But if you want to be someone who wants to have both you and your partner and kids fulfilling their potential, I imagine you want to know that we are all pushing our potential. Because that is what creates a fulfilling life.
What I imagine you don’t want, is someone who just tells us to “work harder” or “stop being lazy and stop eating all the cookies!!!”. Alternatively, preferably someone who is showing that they are with you every step of the way, which means a helpful slice of sacrifice.
What You Can Do
Do the work yourself and help set an example you want to see.
Actions speak louder than words, and your partner definitely does not want to hear you telling them to get going. They do want to see you work hard. It could well and truly be a reason why they fell in love with you in the first place, so it’s great to remind them of that.
Don’t get too comfortable. But get comfortable in the uncomfortable.