Dr. Heitler on relationship compatibility

All couples sometimes have different viewpoints and struggle with relationship compatibility. All couples, especially in the early years of marriage, discover their first problems in marriage–areas where his way and her way differ. The challenge of become fully successful marriage partners is to be able to talk over each of those differences with the goal of creating an our way, a plan of action that truly works well for both partners. Even if you consider yourselves very compatible, differing viewpoints are especially likely to arise in the courtship, engagement, wedding planning, and first-year stages of a relationship, when couples are first making decisions together. These decision-points offer excellent opportunities to practice building our way solutions.

relationship compatibility dealing with differences
Apples and oranges? Relationship compatibility is how you deal with differences

Let’s take a simple (fictional) example. In Louise’s family, birthdays were a big deal, so her expectation is that there will be a whole lot of fuss and specialness about her birthday celebration. In Chad’s family, by contrast, people at most offered a pleasant “Happy birthday!” When Louise’s birthday comes along, she’s at risk for feeling disappointed if Chad handles her birthday the way that his family of origin would have—with words only. The initial irritation or hurt Louise would feel signals that she and Chad have a his way/her way conflict they need to talk over to increase their relationship compatibility. Their challenge then is to create an our way responsive to both of their concerns.

Louise and Chad’s solution? Louise would become the choreographer of all their birthday celebrations, hers and her husband’s. Chad then would be glad to join in. He’d be glad to join her on shopping trips to pick out presents, and also offered to take out his banjo to enhance their celebrations with music. This new our way to celebrate birthdays delighted them both!

Relationship compatibility does not mean having the same viewpoints as your spouse and never having any arguments; rather, it is the ability to make decisions that work around areas in which you are not compatible. Even the most opposite-seeming couples can have healthy relationships as long as their communication in marriage skills are top-notch. In addition, more our way action means less feelings of sacrifice and resentment for both spouses–you both get what you want! Power of Two offers some fun activities to help you learn how to find our way solutions–also known as win-win solutions. Check them out!

Dr. Susan Heitler, Ph.D.
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