Empathic Relationships: Prioritizing Serving over Fixing and Helping

During challenging relationship times, it is essential to explore ways to enhance connection and communication.  Changing our mindset and approach away from fixing and helping can catalyze a move toward a safer place. Examining on fixing and helping offers insight into ongoing relationship struggles.  Fixing suggests something amiss, possibility in how our partner handled the situation.  Although helping may imply support to your partner it is time to shift away from fixing and aiding behind and embrace serving our partners.

Serving your partner in a relationship transcends helping or fixing their problems. It is more about serving your partner.  Rachel Naomi Ramen eloquently describes fixing, helping, and serving as “Fixing and helping create a distance between people, but we cannot serve at a distance.  We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected.” Service involves a deeper level of connection, care support, and understanding that focuses on your partner’s emotional well-being and overall happiness.  

Using the Imago perspective, we serve our partners by listening actively in dialogue, being present, showing curiosity while listening to understanding with curiosity, and empathizing with and validating your partner’s sharing. What a delightful way to deepen the connection with our partner. 

Practicing Empathy and Validation

Giving your partner your undivided attention and allowing your partner to be held is an act of service.  As you enter gently into your partner’s world, you release your desire to fix issues or provide help.  Serving is giving your partner your full attention while genuinely listening to their thoughts, feelings, and concerns with a loving and compassionate ear. 

Continue serving your partner by showing empathy by acknowledging their emotions and the story from their perspective. Validate their feelings by saying things like, “I am with you”, or “I get it.” The service of empathizing and validating is a gentle way of moving your relationship to a more connected state.  

Daily Acts of Patrner Service

Serving your partner requires daily engagement.  There are many ways.  They include:

  • Encourage your partner’s pursuit of passions and goals. Offer support, encouragement, and belief in their abilities, helping them achieve their dreams. 
  • Surprising gestures to show your love and appreciation through unexpected acts of kindness. These can be as simple as leaving a heartfelt note, planning a surprise date night, or preparing their favorite meal.
  • Respect their Autonomy by recognizing that your partner is an individual with their own thoughts, feelings, and choices. Respect their autonomy and allow them to make the best decisions for them, even if they have a different perspective.
  • Consistently express your love and affection verbally and through physically gestures. Simple gestures like hugs, kisses, and verbal affirmations of love can go a long way in serving your partner’s emotional needs.
  • Understanding each other’s love languages and personalize your expressions of love and service. Some people feel most loved through words of affirmation, while others appreciate acts of service, quality time, physical touch, or receiving gifts.
  • Encourage your partner to take care of themselves physically and mentally. Support their self-care routines and help create an environment where they can prioritize their well-being.

Incorporating these daily routines in your relationship is the ultimate way to serve your partner. 


When disagreements arise, focus on finding mutually agreeable solutions rather than trying to “fix” the problem. Conflict resolution should be about understanding each other’s perspectives and finding compromises. In the Imago world, we see conflict as growth waiting to happen. Embrace the growth, knowing you are being exposed to a new way of thinking. 

Bear in mind, that serving your partner is an ongoing process that evolves as your relationship develops. It’s about fostering emotional connection, trust, and mutual respect. By practicing these actions and approaches, you can build a more fulfilling partnership based on love, care, and genuine service.