I want to play with a concept with you. I think your ability to empathize with your partner is predictive of your success in the relationship. If you are able to get out of your own way, your own view, your own selfishness and sacrifice for others, this positively affects your relationship.
Try on the concept by looking at people with mental illness. People who, try as they might, even with good counseling, good medications, cannot always control the voices in their heads, the hallucinations, panic attacks, deep depression, delusions. They may have lost many jobs and given up or maybe the system just isn’t designed for people like this.
When you see someone who is mentally ill and homeless, are you able to feel empathy or do you have judgment?
Do you feel sad and want to help or do you feel angry and frustrated and start blaming them?
Do you compare your situation with them or do you see that there is something very different happening simply due to a mental illness beyond their control?
Don’t judge yourself too harshly, it just means you have not fully developed your empathy and compassion.
Maybe you were taught something about “Them” that is not true and this teaching was repeated enough that you believe the teaching was true. Explore that and watch your empathy shift.
Keep growing your empathy for yourself, your partner, family, society, the homeless, people who suffer (we all suffer).
When you witness someone suffering, the healthy response is to hold space rather than judge, and be curious about how to alleviate suffering. You want a healthy response to your own suffering and to theirs.
Consider asking yourself the following:
What is the cost of the status quo?
What is attractive about the status quo?
Those two questions open up the capacity for empathy.