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.
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.