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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in connection (2)


Empathy in Marriage: Gender Differences in Communication Part 2

Carrying on with the ideas from last week, Micah breaks down some of the spiritual differences between men and women as described by Swedenborg. What is innate and what can we change? Looking at the changeable nature of mirror neurons, Micah suggests we can develop quite a bit. -Editor

As discussed last week, neuroscientist Schulte-Rüther’s study lent support to the issue of whether or not there are gender differences in the human mirror neuron system while also reframing behavioral research as it relates to empathy. This research concluded that men and women have statistically equal ability to provide empathic support, but that particular types of empathy come more naturally to each gender on a biological level. This has some interesting interactions with New Church thought.

What are the Gender Differences at a Spiritual Level?

In general, men and women appear to be spiritually similar. They both have freedom (the ability to choose between good and evil, and live accordingly) and rationality (the ability to think about truth), which are the qualities that make a human truly human (Divine Providence 98). Further, Emanuel Swedenborg, author of the Writings for the New Church, claims that both men and women have an intellect (the ability to have higher cognitive thoughts so as to think about truth objectively) and will (the loves that inspire people to act), though he qualifies by explaining that for men the intellect leads and for women the will leads; “and people are characterized by what is in control” (Heaven and Hell 369). Men therefore, are spiritually distinguished by their intellect—their ability to think, rationalize, and explain abstract ideas objectively. Women are spiritually distinguished by their will—their ability to act according to their intuitions, loves, and inspire people to act through shared loves.

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Empathy in Marriage: Gender Differences in Communication Part 1

Women and men are different. Their bodies are different in obvious ways, but also in less apparent ways—like the structure of the brain. Emotions are processed in the inner workings of the brain, and Micah examines the ways that men and women's brain neurons differ when feeling empathy. -Editor

You don’t understand. You don’t know how I’m feeling. How often do these ideas come up in relationships? These ideas often stem from a basic miscommunication, or failure to empathize.

Good communication, particularly in an intimate relationship, depends upon how two people perceive one another through empathy. Miscommunication, which seems to be a common issue in marriages, therefore indicates a lack of empathy between spouses. Who is at fault? Is either partner at fault? It turns out that there are gender specific approaches to empathy that lead to miscommunications in relationships, but, with conscious effort men and women can improve their non-dominant approach to empathy and thus communication with their spouse.

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