Guest Author - Lori Phillips
Unless yours was an arranged marriage, you chose your mate. So it always strikes me as odd when married couples complain that they are incompatible. Didn’t they know this before they married? But people put their best face forward, masking their flaws to hook the catch. And then, they also change over time.
In my own case, we didn’t allow time to get to know each other very well. My husband I had a whirlwind courtship and he proposed 13 days after we met. Yes, it was irrational and stupid, but we fell hard for each other. Later, we learned there were a lot of unknowns we had to brave.
Some unknowns are insignificant while others can make you seriously question your relationship. “I didn’t know…
…she drank so much.”
...he was a mama’s boy.”
…her family was going to cause problems.”
…he was going to have an office affair.”
...she spends money like water.”
…how he would react when financial crisis occurred.”
…she would be stop having intimate relations with me.”
We can’t always predict what life will bring, and surprising times bring out characteristics that aren’t always pleasing. What do you do when you see something in your mate that you don’t like? Do you declare that you two suddenly have become incompatible?
The paradigm shift secret to compatibility issues
We need to clarify the definition of compatible. Compatible does not mean identical; it means complementary. Compatibility is a matter of mind. After over 27 years of marriage and countless years discussing private marital problems with others, I see a pattern when it comes to “incompatibility” problems. Like everything else in life, they serve a purpose. Being married to someone who is different from you can provide a lot of richness to you as an individual:
1. New perspectives. Seeing the world and life from a completely different viewpoint enlarges your own mind and awareness. Being with only like-minded people cultivates small-minded people.
2. Tolerance, patience, empathy, compassion and understanding. You practice a lot of saintly virtues when you’re with different personalities, and that means personal growth which really is the purpose of life.
3. Completeness. Your weaknesses can be covered by your mate’s strengths—and vice versa—to make a stronger and complete “whole” entity. Like the yin-yang principle of two opposites that comprise a whole, each side is completely different from the other. Accept and experience the differences without judgment.
4. Grander life experience. You can experience things you never would have if you weren’t exposed to them by your partner. Difficult, hard and even unpleasant times are worth experiencing, too. They often teach you more than a pleasant experience.
When couples use their differences to their advantage, they transform their incompatible traits to complementary traits. Like complementary colors, they are not identical. You honestly would not enjoy being with someone who is identical to you.
I dated men who were opposites of me in different ways, but that is why they appealed to me. There was one guy in college who was surprisingly similar to me, and he posed all of my neuroses and annoying qualities right back in my face. On the up side, he was curious, creative, existential, but I saw quickly how important it was for me to find someone different than I was, more stable, to balance my quirkiness. My husband is the yang to my yin. Completely different. But when we discover incompatibilities between us, we find a way to see them as complementary. Love glues our two halves together.
I think that a lot of young women believe marriage is supposed to be the fairytale ending to childhood. They grow up, get married and live happily ever after. Happily ever after is possible, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be storms to endure and dragons to vanquish along the way. The best stories need their challenges and villains. Real life gives you a chance to write your own great story. Incompatibility is a story challenge that you can rewrite by seeing that your differences are complementary for a broader marriage experience. If you love each other enough, you can keep your marriage glued together this way happily ever after.