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The Key to Successful Relationships

People commonly think that the secret to a great relationship is communication... but it isn't. It's Compatibility.

I can prove it. Imagine a couple who wakes up in the morning, shares a kiss, eats breakfast quietly while each reads a novel or newspaper, kisses goodbye, goes to work, returns home, eats dinner, watches TV, shares a goodnight kiss and goes to bed. They have done very little communicating because neither of them are big talkers. But they both value stability and companionship and they are deeply in love. I wouldn't want to my marriage to be so bland. But they are Compatible. Not with me and maybe not with you... but they were made for each other.

Verbal communication is unimportant except for those of us who value verbal communication. Compatibility is the key.

It's the neglected issue behind every successful and unsuccessful relationship.

I know a couple who, after 10 years of marriage, still made love at least once per day. I've also known couples who haven't had sex in 10+ years. Neither of these extremes is a problem until someone who wants sex daily marries someone who thinks once every ten years is plenty. That's where we get into trouble.

We fail to consider compatibility when choosing a partner. We become intimate with someone who has several qualities that we enjoy and assume everything else will just fall into place or work itself out. Then we find ourselves committed to someone who wants to stay home every night while we want to go out. Or someone who likes spending the money we are obsessed with saving. You get the idea.

Compatibility goes even deeper. We each have personal flaws. Our emotional or personality challenges. But while my flaws may seem like terrible "dealbreakers" to some, others may find them merely inconvenient, cute or even endearing.

For example, if I had a problem with my temper, it would be less of a problem with someone who was able to tune me out and ignore me than it would with someone overly sensitive, or with an abuse history, or with their own temper problem.

I knew a guy with a temper problem. He would start criticizing his wife, in an unconscious attempt to pick a fight, and she would give him a kiss (and sometimes a tickle!) and tell him to "stop being cranky." And it actually worked! He was lucky enough to find someone who could easily handle his temper. That's compatibility!

Compare that to the couple who would immediately be yelling, blaming, name-calling and door-slamming.

There is an unspoken agreement in every successful relationship: "I'm not perfect and you're not perfect. I can ignore your imperfections if you can ignore mine. I choose to spend my life in your company."

Of course the beauty of this is that many of our imperfections are emotional defenses which can fade away when we're loved in spite of them.

But let's also be honest. Some imperfections are easier for us to ignore than others.

Some compatibility issues can work themselves out over time. We can learn to compromise to an extent. We can bargain: "I'll agree to do this for you if you'll agree to do that for me." We can take turns winning: "It's your turn to pick the restaurant/movie/TV show/vacation."

People need to consider compatibility in their relationships. In what areas are we or aren't we compatible? Can it be changed or worked around? Am I ignoring major compatibility issues?

Some food for thought.

musicbook musicbook 61-65, M 45 Responses Dec 15, 2011

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There are marriage preparation courses, these tend to ferret out areas of incompatibility.

Loved reading this again.

Compabilty... is a 8 on 10 ...
What about lies..?? Is that considered as a PROBLEM..??

Lies in a manner that.. ( nothing to do with cheating ) ..
Small lies.. always turns to a big problem?? Can this be called as compablity??

Lies may or may not be a 'dealbreaker' in a relationship. Here again, compatibility enters into it. Some spouses forgive spouses who have cheated for YEARS. In contrast, I've known couples who broke up over harmless, little 'white lies'.

Right on!! Wonderful read, thank you.

Thank you for your post. I am in a relationship bordering on two years that has not been good, this has helped put some perspective on things.

Thank you this is very true and we are indeed lucky when we find someone compatible with us.But often we make the wrong choices for the wrong reasons. As you well know,people from abusive background will feel comfortable initially by what they are used to,for what they even regard as the norm.Finding someone compatible is a question of insight,self knowledge and quite often pure luck!

Absolutely true!

Well said!

Great article; thanks! Very insightful!

I like what you have said here. I like to talk my husband does not. Therefore I have to find another outlet.

I do take offense to his words at times but have to realize he just doesn't know any better.

We survive and get along ok for the most part. Yes, there are so many things I would like to go do and see. He of course likes the counch and TV. These are minor differences you can deal with.

I strongly believe you have to take everyday as it comes to you; and yes also think of the future.


There is still pro's and con's to everything you said in this story. I can see a bit of all of it in my past marriage. The problem with it, and what ended it, was the secrets and perversions that didn't come out until later!

Not much you can do about the stuff that doesn't come out until later but to make the tough choice of whether or not it's acceptable. That's the nature of those 'dealbreakers'.

Awesome! I wish I would have understood this better years ago, but maybe I couldn't really understand it without going through the past eleven years trying to make an incompatible relationship work.

Yes, we cannot truly understand anything unless we have developed the necessary insight through time and experience and sadly some of us take longer to reach that understanding while others with far better self esteem see the red flags sooner and leave the "relationship" before they waste more precious time and suffer more trauma.

Self-esteem is a HUGE factor here. The lower my self-esteem, the more likely I am to believe that your way is 'right' and mine is 'wrong'. The more likely I'll be to tolerate dealbreakers. Someone with a healthy sense of self-esteem will look at an incompatible relationship and say, "This isn't working for me. This is not someone I care to spend my life with."

Makes sense. Thanks for sharing.

Wow......brilliant.....there are a lot of gems of wisdom to work with here.......thankyou!

..Your observations are very true and l too would put 'compatibility' top of the list, l speak from experience rather than logic. l do not think a similarity of culture taste or education are that important because a couple may have all these in common yet be 'incompatible'. What worked was in my experience was 'Emotional compatibility' it allowed the 'being in love stage to progress and grow stronger. Having married four times 'l learned this lesson the hard way'. It is a kind of hell to be with someone one discover's one is not compatible with, personality wise, however much one may have be in love with that person because love can fizzle out, that is when dissatisfaction and 'criticism sets in on both sides'. But l do not think there is a any greater happiness than being in love with someone one is totally compatible with 'because the comradeship is second to none'. The silent episodes of companionship are wonderfully powerful, yet there can be differences of opinion that are of no importance because they are dealt with in an attitude of pleasant compromise or respect for the other's opinion. l count myself blessed to have found this kind of compatibility in love, twice in my life.

That is terrific food for thought btw. And my thoughts...<br />
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In a relationship compatibility allows you the time and room to communicate about those areas and issues where you don't agree. And most will agree there are always some. This is important so that each might understand the other's position and how to accommodate. Without compatibility a relationship is a constant struggle. Without communication it's a war.

I loved your answer and agree but looking back I dont know that I was capable of making that wise decision based on my background. The guys that I felt compatible with I didn't seem to have that sexual spark with and have to say it was a deal breaker. The man I probably should have got married too from this point of view just didn't do it for me and even at that young age I knew we were right for each other in terms of culture, education, family values but I chose differently and I still believe it was because I had more lessons to learn from my husband than this man. While my life with him hasn't been all roses it has been exciting and challenging. We have little in common he's the adventurous type who wants to bungyjump, see Africa and ride roller coasters while my idea of a great holiday is going on a cruise, finding a beach and a good book, spending a day out on the boat, fishing or with my dogs. I have been places and done things I probably would never have done without him and I believe he would say the same.

lol!... its like a lottery ticket!

Thank you for sharing!

Wow that's good. Something to always keep in mind.

Thanks !
Appreciate Your Insights and Thoughts

That was fantastic. I have been married for 25 years and never had marriage put to me like that. Very Wise.... I got married before knowing those major questions...So I like to go out, he likes to stay in, I love the beach, He hates the beach..Not allot in common, I hope for sake of others that you do marriage counseling to couples before they get married. Thanks for the story.

Words of wisdom, my friend... I agree

you are right to a point I had a good marriage for 15 years then wife decided she was frigid and decided to do her own thing

This nearly brought tears to my eyes, absolute food for my thinking, I wish I read this 5 years ago xx

I enjoyed this posting. Your words ring true. Lack of compatibility in many areas made my "marriage" unworkable. I did try...Maybe he did for a period of time, but I do wonder...I will have to think about this more...Forever man and I have major compatabilities. It is wonderful. And that is one very good reason why we will last. Thank you again. xoxo

Before reading your story I thought communication was the key to a successful relationship, but now I am wondering maybe that is where I maybe went wrong. I would be always willing to listen, and to talk, willing to make a change. But I never thought really about he and I being compatible. The more I think about it we were so different, the difference in us was like daylight and darkness. I now can truly understand how important being compatible really is.

I totally agree with this statement and your comment to RenBean. When you do give up all sorts of little pieces of yourself to be a good fit to the other, resentment sets in, especially if the other person doesn't appreciate your effort and reciprocate. There should be give and take in relationships but the ideal relationship would be compatibility.

I wish someone had said this to me before I got married. I totally believe in the 'unspoken agreement', but it's useless if the other person has no such agreement in mind.

If I was to teach Relationships 101 as a high school class, the first concept I would teach would be that unspoken agreement I mentioned in my original story. Too many people allow their relationship dialogue to become "Here is what is wrong with you:" or "Here is what you do wrong:" Ironically, the partner who is "teaching" what you need to change in order to be perfect is never perfect themselves! When BOTH partners accept each others imperfections, there is unconditional love.

Fabulous. I totally agree.

excellent stuff there, my friend! and well said. :)

I keep coming back and reading this for some reason. I think what bothers me is while I agree compatibility is a huge factor Imagine this scenario:<br />
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A couple who wakes up in the morning, shares a kiss, eats breakfast quietly while each reads a novel or newspaper, kisses goodbye, goes to work, returns home, eats dinner, watches TV, shares a goodnight kiss and goes to bed. <br />
<br />
They never talk.... they never share anything more then routine days. In reality they share many common interests and beliefs even have similar levels of activity and ambition. However, they are not in love - not connected. They live out their days in decent polite order never having more than a tolerable arrangement.<br />
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This is compatibility without love or communication. For me, it was not the answer.

That would be true if you or I were trapped in that marriage. The picture I was trying to paint was that of two non-communicators who were very much in love getting exactly what they wanted out of the relationship... even if it differs greatly from what most of us want. In this scenario, each person values security and predictability... not communication. Love is vital... otherwise they don't belong together. I'm just saying that compatibility is vital, too. More once-loving relationships fail because of compatibility issues than communication issues. Couples who argue daily until they hate one another communicate just fine.

Jenvice , l don't think that is an example of compatibility , it is more of an example of both being resigned to a less than perfect relationship.

Very wise story.

I like what you said.

all I could say is WOW , everything is very well said... nice one

Very well thought out and extremely observant. I like that. I like it a lot. I had a wonderful Almost marriage that was similar to this, but we seemed to allow outside variables just infultrate our union resulting in a series of choices that now appear regrettable on both of our behalfs. Compromise and mutual respect is key to a wonderful union whether it be in holy matrimony or life-partners. There's a reason they call it Signifigant Other. Its this signifigance that is what we hold precious. I only wish I was able to turn back time or have that "Take-Back". I cant and I am now forced with the growth moment that now will or can only prepare me to be the better man I was meant to be. I wish they would have seen this or could now see this in me... Great Post. I really couldnt agree more with your POV

I agree tht compatability is a must, but for any relationship to work for me than I would have to add to the, respect, communication, and trust.

Aww you sappy, sappy, sappy, romantic you.

Just one problem what makes people compatible? Is it not a choice? Is then the question not who am I compatible with... but who do I want to be with? And can I be dedicated to this person whole heatedly? And if not, what conditions apply?

What makes us compatible? Everything. Our personalities, habits, tastes, quirks, preferences... Everything!

I think that compatibility is a choice only to a limited extent. Let's say I'm very social... I like going out and visiting friends and having friends visit us. You are a homebody. Your idea of a fun evening is staying home and watching TV or chatting on EP ;-) I want us to 'click' so I make the CHOICE to stay home and sit on the couch with you night after night watching "The Real Housewives of Monkeybreath, Arkansas."

I sooooo want us to work out that I'm willing to give up all sorts of little pieces of myself so that we'll be a good fit. (Sound familiar, anyone?)

How long do you suppose that will last? How long before I go out of my mind and want to socialize and interact with people? I haven't really made a choice to be compatible. I've only tucked my own need away. That's NEVER a healthy long-term answer. A compromise might be we agree to stay home on weekdays and socialize on weekends... or vice versa. But we BOTH have to get our way for it to work.

That is about as bottom line as you can get. You are so right. We can make anybody like us by mimicking them and sharing in their lifestyle. That doesn't mean they will do the same for you. Relationships are like business investments. Both parties must maintain a healthy interest or it just won't work.

This is a very good reading..<br />
I agree with you 100% .. but the problem is that sometimes people don't show their (true colours) at the start of a relationship, which 'cause problems after marriage.

That's absolutely true. We tend to be on our best behavior until we feel 'safe' enough to act out with one another. That could mean I start leaving the toilet seat up or it could mean using my fists to win an argument. No way around this except to re-evaluate the arrangement.

...with hope that the re-evaluation is implemented PRIOR to drinking the kool-aid ....hmmm doubtful possibility.

I think re-evaluateion may not be the key for a lasting relationship. I agree with compatibility and communication. However, above all, I believe in love above all else. When we are in front of the altar, I vow that I commit to keep till the end of my journey. It is ok we change but my love for her will not. It is more of a decision than a feeling.

Check this out too.

I agree with you completely: compatibility is most important.

i loved your post, am glad i took time and interest in going all through it, am going to keep this in mind now, before just loosing my mind on my partner.. but the problem is how can i make my partner to an agreement with this, he won't read it, for sure... but i think if he too just agrees to it, its going to get soo much better

Even when we try not to communicate, we communicate. But I so agree on compatibility. I have had the kind of bf that other girls envied, so I should have been happy, right? Wrong, we argued a lot. One day he told me, "I am who I am". I wanted to hit him so bad, because it was no fair, because he spent most of the relationship trying to change me!!!! HE DROVE ME INSANE! Literally!

compatability and communication either verbal or non-verbal are keys to good relationships.

offcourse compatibility rules....

I agree, however, communication is vital to a healthy relationship. Along this path of life, with the hustle and bustle of busy days and years, people can forget the needs of their love. This is when good communication is really needed to help share what we need with our partner and hopefully they will listen and understand. But, you are right, compatibility is the thing, but in all my days, I never thought to ask the man I married if he would want sex and affection in a marriage. It was assumed because I had never come across anything like this before with a man.

LOL! Eharmony's definition of compatibility is like the bumper sticker version. ;-) <br />
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One of the inherent problems with the electronic matchmaker approach is that it can't measure or predict attraction, chemistry, body language or any of the physical elements that are very much a factor in our romantic relationships.