Working Toward Compatibility

Working Toward Compatibility

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When it comes to dating, we hear so much talk about compatibility. But what does compatibility mean, anyway? How do we know if we're compatible with another person?

According to the dictionary, it means being able to exist harmoniously with someone else and work together without conflict. We aren't all natural peacemakers, so what does that mean for us in terms of compatibility? It doesn't mean we never achieve it. Compatibility is something that, in my opinion, doesn't just naturally happen.

It takes work.

I saw a quote on Pinterest recently that gets it exactly right. It read: "Love isn't supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be worth it." Even the famous passage on love from 1 Corinthians 13 hints that love takes work. In love, we are called to be patient, kind and humble among a host of other things like refraining from envy and pride. It takes continual effort to achieve and maintain these characteristics.

This should change the way we view conflict in our relationships.  Conflict doesn't mean a relationship will not or cannot work. It just means it needs work. A good relationship is one that is Christ-centered and where both individuals are growing together in faith and character. And the good thing about working at a relationship means you learn how to handle conflict while challenging each other to grow.

There are some important aspects of compatibility to consider when you're dating. The most important thing is a shared confession of Christ as Savior. We are not to be unequally yoked in dating and marriage. Compatibility is also a two-way street. If a relationship becomes all conflict, and repeatedly over the same issues, no growth is happening. If the other person is not making an effort to grow, compatibility is not likely.

Keep in mind that conflict that encourages growth and moves toward compatibility comes from love, not malice. Growth should continue as you learn to adapt to your partner and become compatible. There should always be a level of enjoyment in the relationship.

I've been learning a lot from my boyfriend the last several months about personality types based off the Enneagram Test, which categorizes personalities into nine different types. My boyfriend and I both have a reformer personality, which means we're both perfectionists and we're both stubborn. Not only do we always want to do what is right, but we always want to be right. We like control.

Based on that description alone, it might seem like we aren't compatible. But that's where the work we put into the relationship makes it worth it. We recognize that we challenge each other, and we expect to grow from every conflict. We continually push each other to grow in humility and to relinquish control back to God where it belongs. We challenge each other to be OK with accepting when we're wrong.

I've learned that relationships where conflicts occur and encourage growth are healthier than happy-go-lucky relationships where infatuation takes over. You learn to work well together in dating and how to properly respond to each other, which helps prepare you for marriage.

What have you learned about compatibility in your relationships? If you're not dating, the same applies to friendships or family relationships. How do you work toward compatibility?

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  • --"I've learned that relationships where conflicts occur and encourage growth are healthier than happy-go-lucky relationships where infatuation takes over. You learn to work well together in dating and how to properly respond to each other, which helps prepare you for marriage."

    This. 1000 times this. If more people would bring up an issue when it's a small thing and deal with it then, it won't build up into a big thing.

    Also, while it's delusional to expect a SO not to have any problems, it's important for both of you to be willing to work on your problems. I can't expect a woman whose parents paid for everything her entire life to suddenly live extremely frugally just because we start dating, but I also have no intention of supporting a several thousand dollar per year shoe habit when we get married, so there's got to be some movement towards budgeting and making better decisions with money.

  • --I love personality tests, but I wasn't familiar with the Enneagram test.  Of course, I had to go take a free one online to find out what my personality type is!  I'm a 9 - Peacekeeper.  The description of that type really does describe me quite well.  I always prefer peace and harmony over any sort of conflict, and I do everything I can to make sure that conflicts are resolved quickly.  If there is no resolution to conflict, I become very stressed, lose sleep, and feel physically ill.  

    I don't know how great this is for a relationship, because I've been told that I allow people to "walk all over me" in my attempts to keep things peaceful.  I don't think I'm a pushover, exactly, and I can stand up for myself (even if it causes conflict) when needed.  A guy that I briefly dated several years ago told me that he was afraid I was too "accommodating" and that I would sacrifice my own happiness in order to avoid conflict or put him first.  He didn't see that as a good thing at all.  Looking back on it, I may have come across as too passive and maybe even disinterested, but at the same time, if I had an opinion or preference, I usually voiced it!

    In my current relationship, I'm trying to find the balance between seeking peace and avoiding conflict, and facing the difficult issues head-on.  We'll see how it goes, I suppose!

  • --Interesting.

    I grew up a lot and learned so much in previous bad relationships.  

    My current relationship seems to be Made of Win because of this - he and I both have a lot of experiences of what not-to-do, and as a result, there is very little disagreement or conflict.

    I think age has a lot to do with it too.  We're both in our 30s.  We've both been through "stuff".  We know what we don't want and we know what we do want.  All that 20-something-existential-angst is in the past for us, which I think is another huge advantage.  

    Interesting that you mention the Enneagram, which my BF introduced me to.  (He's a Peacemaker, I'm an Enthusiast.)  Recognising this has inspired several discussions of how I don't ever want to walk all over his plans/desires, which is tricky because I'm the one who keeps coming up with crazy plans and I get really excited about life.  

  • --Sometimes, a man and a woman are brought together over a conflict! I find their love stories quite interesting, because they come together not over an innocent outing but instead seeing each other under pressure and seeking solutions and trying to cope with the situation. Anybody can tell the story of how he asked her to dance with him or how he asked her if he could buy her dinner, as if that is the official way to fall in love. So we often forget that they is NO OFFICIAL WAY to make romance bloom. We can't stuff God in a box when it comes to any area of our lives, including how we fall in love.

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