The “Secrets” of Compatability
Dear Neil: My fiancé and I are fighting a lot with each other, and that’s thrown our wedding—scheduled for later this year—into serious question. Is there a secret for how to know if we can be compatible with each other? We have a lot of common interests and similar tastes in music, Italian food and gourmet coffees. How can we have compatibility, also?
Not Getting Along in Westminster, Colorado
Dear Not Getting Along: Compatibility isn’t something you have. It’s something the two of you make. The similarities and personality traits that attract two people to each other—such as common tastes in music, art, travel and food—is what gets you together, not what typically keeps you together.
Here are some of the most important behaviors and attitudes that two people must cultivate and develop over time in order for them to feel compatible with each other:
- Treating the other person with respect. This includes the assumption of good will, absence of malice and benefit of doubt.
- Open and skilled communication. Compatible couples share their secrets, personal intimacies, delights, thoughts, feelings, hopes, wishes, hurts, frustrations, disappointments, yearnings and fears with each other. Good communication is reciprocal sharing, which is more than just bombarding someone with your thoughts and feelings. It is also about knowing the difference between “talking at” and “talking with” someone, being interested and inquisitive about the other person’s emotions, needs and desires, and being an extremely good listener and hearing the other person’s feelings without hearing the other person’s feelings without being defensive, hostile, or dismissing.
- Compatible couples have figured out healthy, positive ways of dealing with grievances, disagreements, disappointments and past wounds. This includes good conflict resolution, problem solving, negotiating and compromising skills—and these skills must be used continually throughout the relationship.
- Trust. This includes being faithful and loyal, and helping your mate in feeling secure about your loyalty. Any breeches of trust are worked through and resolved right away.
- Compatible couples spend time together. And tend to do things with each other. They make their intimate relationship a top priority in their lives.
- Being responsive. Making what’s important to him/her important to you.
- There is a sense of true partnership between equals. Major decisions are made jointly. Both believe that the division of labor is fair as it relates to roles, chores, housework and money.
- Romance. Reaching out to your partner and being receptive and responsive when s/he reaches out to you. Going out of your way to please—and doing so on an ongoing basis. Lots of non-sexual touch, hand holding, hugs and cuddling.
- Sex. Being a willing sexual partner, with both of you trying to please and pleasure each other sexually.
- Honesty. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Keeping your word, your promises and your agreements.
- Friendship and support. You feel your partner generally is your friend and ally—and you can turn to him/her for emotional support.
- Having fun together on a regular basis.
- Compatible couples do everything they can to stay emotionally connected with each other.
- Compatible people both have easy, congenial temperaments, and they value getting along.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
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