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Can’t You Be Compassionate?

Brides and grooms often reach out and inquire if I will be a good fit for their Jewish wedding. They want to see if I will understand their vision for their ceremony, and also if I will help give them valuable advice that will help stack the deck in their favor for a long and happy marriage. We had a great discussion.

Are you only seeing one side of the story? "One of the techniques I use in getting to learn about brides and grooms called 'circular questioning' where I ask one partner about the other’s experience of, say, something that’s happening between them," explains Lamb. "It has several purposes, but to feel compassion, you need to be able to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Your ability to do this depends both on the level of communication between your sensitivity to other peoples’ feelings and experiences."

Compassion is often thought of as a type of concern for the welfare and well-being of others. Compassion may not require a focused love to exist but is often considered a form of love in and of itself: a love for humankind. Compassion can be argued to be the bedrock for kindness and selflessness, as it can focus attention outward rather than inward and can be an example of both empathy (putting yourself in someone else’s shoes) and sympathy (feeling sad, sorry, or distressed on someone's behalf without necessarily putting yourself in their situation).

Compassion is generally considered the basis for many religious ideas of love and is often cited as a requirement for true humanitarianism. After all, how can you develop the desire to help people an entire world away without feeling some amount of compassion toward them and wanting to aid in their plight? Compassion is typically regarded as the roots of non-profit organizations, social and psychological work, and other entities designed to help others.

Compassionate love that combines the principles of compassion (empathy, kindness, consideration) and the principles of love (devotion, admiration, and care). Evident in both romantic and platonic love, compassionate love is not only found in one corner of loving interactions but can be used in all types of relationships and all relationship durations. You can experience compassionate love for your neighbor just as much as you can experience compassionate love for your long-term partner. Compassionate love is not selfish in its aims and works to create an equitable balance of care, attention, and respect, rather than trying to gain something through the relationship.

Compassionate love can be experienced in numerous ways. Compassionate love may be romantic, platonic, or a general, vague feeling directed at all of humanity. There is no single, distinct way to experience compassionate love.

This is what Jewish brides and grooms discuss with me when we meet to see if we will work together to marry them. We explore not only the Jewish wedding ceremony at its components, but what makes a meaningful and long lasting marriage.

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