3. Vague depression
4. Disillusionment about marriage, family, and relationships
5. A loss of values
6. Yearning for personal fulfillment
7. A hunger for spirituality
We are all in some ways striving for better loving partners and marriages, sexual intimacy, power, equality, fulfillment, and we believe that we can find this if only our partners would change and fulfill our needs. Some times we can get these emotional resources from our partners. But usually our partners are unable to meet all of our emotional needs. You could have used a strategy to ask for more intimacy: you threatened them, you bribed them, you lived with the frustration of hoping it would go away, but yet it is still there. Why is that?
Moore elegantly reveals the answer:
“But without soul, whatever we find will be unsatisfying, for what we truly long for is the soul in each of these areas. Lacking soulfulness we attempt to gather these alluring satisfactions to us in great masses, thinking apparently that quality will make up for lack of quality…Dropping the salvation fantasy frees us up to the possibility of self-knowledge and self acceptance, which are the very foundations of soul…”
Let’s look at it this way. When you enter into an argument with your partner, they withdraw from you. You want to fix the problem immediately, but the harder you push, the more they pull away. When you attempt to address the problem and talk to your partner about this, they are unable to stay present or talk to you. There could be a variety of reasons why this is happening in the moment. Maybe they lack soulfulness in the area of attachment. They do not have the capacity to build deep meaningful connections with others. This area of soulfulness is missing. They might find it very difficult to attach to their partner, and this is their way of protecting themselves.
No strategy is going to work if they do not have the resources or the soul to change that aspect of them that’s lacking. If your partner is scared and withdraws emotionally, you will never be able to change your situation. The natural thing to do in this situation is compensate for your partners lack of soulful resources. If your partner is unable to provide emotional support, you will dig deeper. You turn to your own soul and try to find more love, connection and compassion working harder for yourself and you try to fulfill your partners needs as well.
You have contributed so much of your energy to supporting the relationship that you feel drained. At that point, you have given so much that you now have compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue shows up as initiating conversations about your relationship, taking up the slack for your partner to avoid confrontation, suppressing negative feelings instead of expressing them, feeling like you have to settle.
Then something happens. The more you try to help your partner and compensate for their lack of soulfulness over time you get fatigued. You tend to lose compassion for your partner since there is only so much you can do for your relationship.You are blinded and cannot see your spouse ever making an attempt to change. Expecting your partner to fulfill you, may be a losing strategy, in this case. Until you are able to overcome your compassion fatigue and learn how to feel fulfilled as an individual, you will be stuck in this never-ending cycle of conflict.
Compassion fatigue is dangerous to your relationship. If you stop caring about your partners emotional needs, since they are unable to fulfill your needs in the relationship, It begins to drift apart.
How to overcome compassion fatigue? You must refocus on yourself first.
This might sound counterproductive, silly, and maybe even maddening! The truth is, you have spent so much energy on others, and now it’s time to rebalance. If you feel fulfilled as an individual, you are able to bring more to all of your relationships.
The best ways to take care of yourself is to understand your needs first. So, for example, if you are an extroverted personality, you fill up your emotional energy by being around others. Go spend a night on the town with your friends. Plan a lunch or surprise event with someone you have not seen in a while, plan some physical or outdoor activities to be around someone. Do what helps you gain energy for your personality type.
If you gain all your energy since you are an introverted personality type, then plan some alone time, take a day off, plan a dinner with one special person or maybe try some meditation type activities for around 10 minutes a day. This may not be what you expect in the moment, but it may be exactly what you need to take care of your soul. If you want to take this to a deeper level, ritualize the way you gain energy. Plan a specific time and day each week to complete these tasks.
Tony Schwartz wrote the best, beautiful book on energizing yourself, called the “Power of Full Engagement,” and walks you through all the steps to manage your energy during the day. Once you are able to energize yourself, compassion fatigue is reduced. Then share this with your spouse. Tell them what you want from the relationship and work with them so they do not run out of compassion fatigue or expect that it is your responsibility only to fix your relational challenges. Nurture, cultivate and take care of your soul. When you do, you will be more compassionate, empathetic, and open to new ways of solving your challenges.