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Love or Compatibility - What's More Important to a Marriage?

Though we all strive for the sometimes elusive ideal of intense and passionate love, in reality it is compatibility that makes a relationship work. The success of a marriage is generally measured by its length, and couples that have stayed together for a long time are thought to be the best examples of a good marriage. While initially it is love that brings a couple together, it is actually compatibility that keeps it going, day in and day out, and year in and year out.

We are all familiar with the scenario. Two people meet, fall passionately in love, and then real life sets in. The relationship is filled with explosive fighting and periodic breakups, or at other times intense love and affection. When asked why they stay together, each person will respond that they love the other too much to walk away. Eventually, many will leave, although the divorce rate is not actually 50% as is commonly cited.


Why Compatibility?

It is clear that love alone is not keeping couples together. In time, without some level of compatibility, some way to reconcile the differences and live a harmonious life together, the love will inevitably fade. While compatibility can foster love, love does not necessarily bring about compatibility.

Compatibility can mean many things to different people, but the basic elements include values, ideas, habits, preferences, interpersonal and communication styles that have a lot in common. Compatibility does not necessarily mean agreeing on everything all of the time, but simply being able to work well together. Compatible couples can and will argue, but the difference between the compatible marriage and the love/hate one is that the compatible couple can generally find ways to reconcile the differences, agree to disagree or compromise.

A Team Effort

In the workplace, we tend to have a more lenient definition of compatibility. Two team members working on a project together would consider themselves compatible not because each of their contributions was exactly the same, but because what each offered to the final product was complimentary to what the other produced.

It is the same in a marriage. We need not be carbon copies of our spouses in order to be compatible. This would likely end up being tiresome and unexciting. Instead, a solid marriage is one in which each partner, just as in the workplace, brings something unique and valuable into the relationship and the home.


But What About Love?

There is no greater feeling than joining forces with the person you have elected to spend your life with to tackle life’s frustrations and challenges, whether they be purchasing a home, raising a child, or simply buying groceries for the week.

Conversely, having someone to share the joys and sorrows of life, even when they do not see them exactly as you do, is equally as meaningful. It is hard not to feel a sense of love for a person that is your ally in life, your rock of support, your buffer zone from the outside world, your teacher and your mentor, and ultimately your best friend. Seek true compatibility, and love will follow without question.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Samira on June 25, 2020:

Found this article interesting.

Hank Marshall on April 29, 2018:

Very sound reasoning. People who love each other can grow apart or closer together. Compatibility is a big part of that. Enjoyed reading the article.

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on April 30, 2012:

Lovely question. I still believe it's love. No matter what, when two people are in love, compatibility seems to just take its place. Perhaps the magic of love. Beautiful hub.

Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on October 15, 2011:

A very well written piece. You ve just hit the nail at the head. Love and compatibility go hand in hand. A well written piece. Bravo. Voted awesome and beautiful

TheHeath on December 13, 2010:

Great hub, and the pictures really seal the deal. Both the article and the pictures remind me of my grandparents, both of which recently passed.

Also, wanted to thank you for the positive affirmation on my hub. Only four written so far, and the encouragement was appreciated. I will sort through more of your works, but wanted to say thanks :)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 17, 2010:

I agree with you also about being of one mind on major issues. My husband and I don't agree on everything but we are like minded on the major issues and still in love. I thought your article laid this out very well.

Jason R. Manning from Sacramento, California on November 12, 2010:

Nice article, it is challenging in that one must choose at the end of the day between compatibility and loving growth. Finding commonality is a mature path to mutual agreement, but at the end of several years, you may only cohabitate because of efficiency and compromise. This is a very difficult subject to be open and honest about. I see things in my own behavior I wish not to see because of “going with the current, letting the river sweep me down.” I can think of Proverbs relating to a calm house, but that doesn’t mean spouses are positively challenged by their partners. I see too many spouses brow beat the other into quiet submission, not a comforting look into long term marriage.

Thank you for presenting this article.

Vicki Carroll from Greater Birmingham Area on November 07, 2010:

Nice points. I agree that being of the same mind on major issues is the key to success. I hear lots of stories about failed relationships based on financial, child-rearing, religious and other issues that could not be resolved. Some people believe if there is a chemistry, the rest just sort of falls into place and they never really explore the hard stuff.

ahorseback on November 06, 2010:

I love the pictures here and the words.....and we all seem to shift between the extremes , I love to watch an old couple dance they seem like fluidity and marriage in motion. Great stuff in your hubs.

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