Trading Places by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott promises to offer “the best move you’ll ever make in your marriage” and it largely delivers, and in less than 200 pages. The topic? A skill highly valued in many professions. Empathy. A novel idea, isn’t it? Stepping back for a moment from your own agenda to consider your spouses’ feelings and view point and then acting on that information. Taking time to pay attention to and care about the feelings of someone you promised to “until death do we part” to and actually verifying if your emotion-based assumptions are accurate. Or, conversely, to open your heart and feel with them rather than simply analyze them.
Filled with anecdotes and scientific data, Trading Places seeks to show even the most non-empathetic among us how they can improve at this skill and use it to revolutionize their marriage. And offers the hope that we are biologically wired for empathy.
My main concerns is I would have liked to see more examples of empathy in practice, particularly on the acting on it, and more scriptural basis, though the concept is very clearly biblical even without scripture on every page. After all, their definition of empathy is what some of us might like to call Christian love. To my first concern, they do offer practical advice and tips. It’s just a matter of learning styles, and it’s a challenge to cater to every style of learning in a book.
One thing to note is noted right in the book. Are you ready to make a change? If you’re not willing to make a serious effort to change your behavior, save your money, or you’ll be no better off than the Apostle James’ man who looked in a mirror and went away and promptly forgot what he looked like.