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Empathy, Is It Contagious? For You Baby . . .

Destination Weddings are a trend.  Mary Frances and I attended one on the Mexican Riviera that was wonderful.  It is ironic though to plan and celebrate a wedding as a destination when marriage, like graduation is the commencement of a life-long journey.
If we could pack only one item for this journey, we would put EMPATHY at the top of the list of essentials.  To journey together we need to be in sync with each other.  Creating an environment of trust and openness where we can be vulnerable in sharing is key to developing empathy.  I like to think of Empathy as seeing the world through the eyes of Mary Frances.  After our kids were all in school, Mary Frances shared her desire to join me in the practice of medicine.  I knew it would be a big change in our lives.  I heard loud and clear her desires but also her fears.  I wanted to be supportive of her and face this change together.  With both of us working I developed a greater empathy for home chores and focusing on 5 kids after a full day of work.  We both grew in seeing the world through the other's eyes. 
Tom more than once commented how wonderful it was to see my fresh enthusiasm, for what sometimes seemed mundane to him.  I judge I was the lucky one as he listened to me and encouraged my ideas in his well-established routines.   We were both flexible in adjusting schedules so I could pick up the kids after school and have days off when the kids were young and out of school.  I have been known more than once to brag about how wonderful it is to sleep with the 'boss'.  Many people comment about how hard it must be to live, eat and breathe with someone 24/7.  The key is communication; not just talking, but also listening -- not only to the words, but to the message behind the words and gently seeking out those words Tom might be afraid to speak.  This creates EMPATHY.  It is not unlike riding a tandem bike.  You have to practice, but once you prioritize constant communication and that thirst for empathy, you realize that you can take turns doing the hard pedaling and spell each other. 
When you are empathetic, it is amazing the virtues that overflow -- generosity, flexibility, an ability to overlook little mistakes and annoyances, to be kind hearted, and self-sacrificing -- not to mention great fire in the bedroom!  Enjoy!


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