Some days ago a colleague reminded me of the Harville Hendrick’s focus upon mutual empathy as central to fulfilling marriage. Thinking of Hendrick’s contribution, though many factors contribute to the successful MarriageOfOpposites, few are more important than well-developed empathy. Empathy is necessary in all marriages but it is especially important in the MarriageOfOpposites because of the huge foundational differences of the two psychologies. Almost always, when a MarriageOfOpposites is in trouble, a good part of the difficulty is inadequate or absent empathy. Likewise, healing in such a marriage requires the return to empathy where it has been lost and the creation of empathy where it has been absent.
The empathic failings of the two types are generally different. The core-styled readily loose awareness that much of their outer-styled partners emotional distancing is motivated by various forms of underlying fear/shame/self-sufficiency defense. Likewise, the outer-styled readily loose empathy for the pivotal role that abandonment/engulfment anxieties play in the core-styled’s emotional escalation/aggression/rupture.