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 create. 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, being an extremely good listener and hearing the other person’s feelings without being defensive, hostile or dismissing.
- Compatible couples have figured out positive ways of dealing with grievances, disagreements, disappointments and past wounds. This comprises good problem solving, negotiating, compromising and negotiating skills, and assumes an absence of anger, cold silent treatment or rough words.
- Trust. This incorporates being faithful and loyal, and not doing or saying anything that violates that loyalty.
- Compatible couples spend time together. They make their relationship a top priority in their lives.
- Being responsive. Making what’s important to your partner, important to you.
- There is a feeling of a true partnership among equals. Major decisions are made jointly. Both believe the division of labor is fair as it relates to roles, chores, children, work and housework.
- Romance. Going out of your way to please, and doing so on an ongoing basis. This includes lot’s of affection.
- Sex. Equally interested in pleasing your partner as you are in being pleased.
- Honesty. Keeping your word, your promises and your agreements. Saying what you mean, and meaning what you say.
- Friendship and support. You treat your partner as a friend and ally.
- Fun. Compatible couples have learned to have fun with each other on a regular basis.
- Staying emotionally connected with each other.