“There is no correlation between being happily married and how compatible you are,” says marital therapist Mary Jo Rapini. I thought her article “A Good Marriage May or May Not Be Compatible” was spot on, and I encourage you to read it. Rapini calls this compatibility issue another myth that couples strive for.
Couples who become unhappy often blame “incompatibility,” when in fact couples can’t be compatible at all times and may argue about budgets, sex, child rearing, chores, etc. Rapini cites a study that shows a telltale sign of an unhappy marriage is when one spouse begins to worry about being compatible or overstate the importance of compatibility for a good marriage. “Unfortunately, due to the lack of healthy marriage mentors, couples don’t understand that it is normal to go up and down,” she explains.
Instead of blaming our newfound incompatibility, we need to work through challenges and narrow down our differences. We also need to realize when our own personal issues are to blame, or when we have different visions for the future.
I recall seeing this happen with a friend who had decided to divorce her husband. “We really never had that much in common; we’re just too different,” said the mother of two about their father. It’s a similar kind of justification.
I probably have many more differences with my husband than similarities. I think that respecting and even admiring our differences is key, even encouraging growth in different areas. On the other hand, I think that having similar values and life goals is very helpful.
Rapini adds that when we walk away from challenging times in our marriage saying, “We aren’t compatible,” we lose an opportunity for growth not only in our marriage but also within ourselves.
Are you currently testing your relationship to see how compatible you are? Do you sometimes wonder if you and your mate are truly compatible? Narrow down the specific areas that are bothering you, and check out Rapini’s tips.
Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.com by Edward Bartel