Compassion is the lifeblood of families. Failure of compassion is the “heart disease” of a family’s emotional life.
Compassion contributes far more to happiness in intimate relationships than love does. Relationships can be happy with low levels of love and high levels of compassion, but not the other way around.
Why is compassion so necessary for love relationships? For one thing, it sensitizes you to the individuality and vulnerability of your loved ones. It makes you see that your partner is a different person from you, with a separate set of experiences, a different temperament, different vulnerabilities, and, in some respects, different values. In contrast, if you feel the intensity of love without compassion, you can’t see who he or she really is. Your partner becomes merely a source of emotion for you, rather than a separate person in her own right. When you feel good, your partner is on a pedestal. When you feel bad, he/she becomes a demon.
Compassion, on the other hand, makes you protective, rather than controlling. The difference is crucial. When you’re protective, you want to help your partner achieve what is best for him or her. When you’re controlling, you want him or her to feel bad for not doing what you want.
An important way to assess your personal well being and the health of your relationship is to determine the level of your compassion.