It is one of the most beautiful forms of love.
Often one spouse finds the other’s life so much more plentiful and rewarding than his or her own. When they don’t feel understood, they say, “Put yourself in my shoes for a moment!” Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is, in fact, one of the most beautiful forms of love.
It is a question of abandoning your own point of view for a moment to shift to the other’s point of view, to make the other’s problem your own, to feel what they feel, to experience what they’re going through, to become the other while still remaining yourself. These are wonderful qualities that psychologist Carl Rogers called empathy (from the Greek “to feel, to suffer in”). St. Paul said: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Putting yourself in the place of the other is to enter into their skin, to become incarnate … Isn’t that what Christ did at Christmas? He did not come to visit us as a tourist or in a helicopter to promise us Heaven: He became man. He experienced hunger, thirst, suffering. He was born and He died in the worst of conditions. Christ was God’s empathy.
The Word became incarnate. He entered into human flesh. He became flesh: “incarnation” is the right word—so much stronger than the word “empathy.” Christ became man, but remained God; and thus He becomes the model we should imitate in every loving interpersonal relationship.
Thus, husbands—“become” your wife in wonderful understanding, but remain a man. Wives—with great empathy “become” your husband, but remain a woman. Parents, “become” your children, take delight in understanding them, but remain the adult.