6 Levels of Compatibility


“How do I know if he or she is the one?” Use dating as a time to qualify someone for all of you. Dating is an interview for a lifetime position. In this third installment on dating and relationships, I want to make it unmistakably clear how you qualify someone. Remember this truism: People marry because they think they are compatible. People divorce because they think they are incompatible. It’s as simple as that.

Compatible does not mean identical. Compatible means able to coexist, live together or work together. Software is called “compatible” if it can run on a computer without change. Hardware is called “compatible” if they can connected to each other without further alternations or upgrades needed. Compatible means corresponding or equally fitting. It’s important for you to identify the 6 levels of compatibility in a love relationship before you tie the knot.

I often tell singles, “The purpose of dating is to find reasons to NOT be together. The purpose of marriage is to find reasons to be together.” This is counter-intuitive. Most people do exactly the opposite. They find reasons to be together while they’re dating, but after they’re married, they discover reasons to not be together. Singles fight for their relationship when they have no obligation to each other, then they fight to be apart when they are married and have an obligation to their spouse and children. Try doing the opposite of what everybody else does. When dating, look for reasons not to be together.

Find out as many incompatibilities as you can. This is not easy during dating. Hormones and emotions run high. Love is blind. You may need to seek opportunities where you can see how the person responds to different people and different environments, and how they react when things don’t go their way. If the person is too incompatible, be thankful you found out early and move on! Once you are married, think of as many reasons as possible to stay together.

For a marriage to last, you should be compatible on all 6 levels:

  1. spiritual compatibility. The basic meaning of this is Christians should marry Christians. Sharing core values and similar outlook on God and Christ is glue to any relationship. Christians should not be unequally yoked to unbelievers or people who do not honor Christ.  On a deeper level, it means you should aim for someone with a similar level of passion and commitment for the Lord. You should be lifting each other up in your devotion and service to Christ.
  2. emotional compatibility. This means you have the ability to understand each other’s feelings and resolve conflict. Next to spiritual compatibility, nothing is more important. Every human has a need to be understood. Find someone who can understand you. Don’t discount the effect of culture or language on how you understand each other. People from different cultures speak different languages, express feelings differently, and operate on unspoken assumptions. These attitudes are ingrained from childhood and are difficult to change. Even two mature people can have cultural clashes that makes the relationship emotionally turbulent. I believe cross-cultural marriages can work (I am the product of one), but I have seen more fail than work. Culture is a very deep thing to penetrate and some very smart people have made it their lifetime pursuit to understand another culture. If you’re willing to put in the effort, then you may be emotionally compatible.
  3. intellectual compatibility. A person who didn’t finish high school will probably not be compatible with a person who has earned a PhD. It doesn’t mean one person is better than the other. It simply means they don’t share enough intellectual compatibilities or have enough in common to talk about.
  4. financial compatibility. This may seem similar to intellectual or educational compatibility, but it is not. This is not so much a measure of how much money you presently have (this will change through different seasons in life), as a measure of you and your partner’s attitude towards money. My mother always told me there are 2 types of people: stingy and generous. We are the generous type. All Christians should be generous, but in reality all are not. Generous people will attract generous people. Stingy people will attract stingy people. Once in a while a stingy person fools a generous person into marrying themand giving them their wealth; this is a “gold-digger”, to be avoided at all cost!
  5. social compatibility. You can tell a lot about a person by their friends. Here too are 2 types of people: one type surrounds themselves with people who are smarter and more capable than they are; the other type surrounds themselves with people who are younger or less qualified than they are. Which do you prefer? Can you marry someone who is too insecure to be around other people who challenge them to greater heights? I prefer my partner to be comfortable around people who are a little different from us or a little more advanced than we are. On the one hand, I do not want a huge amount of social differences. This happens when there is a big age gap between two partners. You might love someone 20 years older or younger than you, but can you imagine getting along with all their friends? Don’t ignore social incompatibilities. (Read the “Creepiness Rule” in my Book “2020” at www.2020Book.org)
  6. physical compatibility. One a basic level, this means you should find your partner attractive and desirable to you. On a deeper level, it means you should enjoy similar recreation and activities. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some activities without your partner’s constant presence or participation. But if one person is a champion in triathlon and the other person is a certified couch potato, this is a physical incompatibility. It may not be a deal breaker for most people, but enough incompatibilities will eventually separate your interests and your lives.

Have you been in a relationship where you were not compatible on all 6 levels? What was it like?

Have you been in a relationship where you were compatible on all 6 levels? Tell us more about it.


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