Moving from incompatible to compatible in your relationship

Your relationship can only be well if you are both well.

Your relationship can only be well if you are both well.

What you need to know:

  • Incompatibilities can leave you feeling you are getting the short end of the stick.
  • A couple may perpetually fight because one partner does not share the interests of the other, or eventually break up to go and find dates who share their hobbies.
  • Consider distracting your spouse with generally acceptable but incompatible behaviours to stop them from annoying you.

How compatible are you with your partner? This is a question you must work on and answer if you aspire to have a satisfying long term relationship. You may be incompatible sexually but compatible mentally. You may be compatible emotionally, mentally, intellectually, but incompatible sexually.

The harm it can cause

Incompatibilities can leave you feeling you are getting the short end of the stick. It can be a trigger for cheating as you seek the satisfaction and compatibility you desire. “Many disagreements and fights in relationships are attributed to incompatibility, with partners feeling they are with the wrong match,” says family therapist Susan Gacheru. But this must not always be the case. Although being incompatible can seem like a deal breaker, it is not all levels of incompatibility that should stoke a break up. Instead of moving out to find the missing link elsewhere, you can move towards bridging the incompatibility you profoundly feel. Compatibility, or lack of it, though, remains an ambiguous subject among many couples. There are those who feel incompatible simply because their partners aren’t their exact replica.  There are those who will say they’re incompatible because their partners prefer to go to bed a little later than them. And there are those who will say they’re incompatible because they subscribe to different religions. Also, it could be that one person wants to have a child and the other doesn’t.

Different interests

A couple may perpetually fight because one partner does not share the interests of the other, or eventually break up to go and find dates who share their hobbies. But these are not measures of how compatible or incompatible a couple is. “Compatibility is not really about shared affinities such as hobbies, interests and activities. Sharing such things only promotes interpersonal chemistry between you,” says Gian Gonzaga, the author of Dating the Second Time Around. Bear in mind that you and your partner are independent individuals trying to see eye to eye on numerous issues that determine the overall health of the relationship.

Tracking your individual evolution

This is the start of your migration from incompatible to compatible that will give you willingness to put effort towards becoming compatible. One of the best tricks to use, says psychologist Dr. Chris Hart, is to mutually track each other’s evolving needs and priorities. “Accept your differences and find ways to turn them to your advantage,” says the psychologist and author of Single and Searching. This will guide you in identifying the areas of incompatibility that you argue most about. “If you really need your partner to do something different, be straightforward and honest about what you want them to do,” says Dr. Hart. This means you must also be willing to negotiate and compromise on issues relating to compatibility with your partner. “If you passively acquiesce to be what you think is affectionate, you may later evolve into a persecuting and resentful partner,” says Gerry Heisler, a psychologist and author of Relationship Bootcamp

The positive distraction

Consider distracting your spouse with generally acceptable but incompatible behaviours to stop them from annoying you. “Putting on her favourite CD will keep her from unloading on you the same way he’ll be less likely to bother you while you’re cooking if you put a bowl of nuts by the TV,” says Dr. Hart. Ms. Gacheru says you do not need to alter your personality to appear compatible. This is a façade you cannot manage to carry for the rest of your relationship. “Instead, alter your attitude and behavior to nip the traits that render you incompatible in the bud,” she says.

Incomplete compatibility

According to clinical psychologist Daniel S Lobel, you should not expect to have complete compatibility, even as you work on your relationship. “Relationships generally have areas of incompatibility that may come and go throughout the duration of the relationship,” says, Lobel who is the coauthor of Stop Walking on Eggshells for Parents: How to Help Your Child (of Any Age) with Borderline Personality Disorder without Losing Yourself. He however points out that how you both own up to the problem and the solution instead of going into a competitive mode and asking your partner to change, will largely determine the outcome of your relationship. “The idea should be for you to come up with a strategy that focuses on what is healthiest for each of you as well as the relationship. Your relationship can only be well if you are both well. This will be doable if you avoid competition,” he says.

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