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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 56-60, M 46 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

thanks for the post :)

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.