What Makes Couples Stay Together or Split Apart

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In my last post to you, I shared this thought: People marry because they are compatible. People divorce because they think they are incompatible. It’s as simple as that.

Why would so many couples who loved each other and thought they were compatible at the time of dating end up getting a divorce? With a bit of experience and wisdom, I can see two major reasons why a relationship would head towards disaster. You may be able to think of more reasons. I am merely suggesting that these two are commonly ignored, yet within our control. We can try to avoid them.

The first formula for disaster: the couple didn’t take seriously their incompatibilities while they were dating. Every couple has got some. If you’re not aware of incompatibilities with your partner, you don’t know them well enough yet.

The second formula for disaster: the couple started off being compatible, then one member of the couple started increasing in value while the other one did not pay attention. This happens in the gym when a woman decides it’s time to lose weight, get fit, or stay healthy. As she is becoming more “valuable” to some men, these men begin to take notice of her. This happens in the office as a man rises in his company. As he is becoming more “valuable” to some women, these women begin to take notice of him. Women, expand your horizon as your husband becomes more successful. Men, dress up better and take her out as your wife tries to be more attractive to you.

People increase in value in different ways, and it is not necessary for both partners to always be doing the same thing at the same time. For instance, a man and a woman do not necessarily have to earn the same level of income to maintain financial compatibility. I watched as my father made better investments, my mother became a better host of formal functions, entertaining state dignitaries and people considered important in their fields. My father and mother rose in value together, but in different ways. However, my mother was an essential part of his growing business.

Most women want their men to get promoted, make more money, or become more successful, yet they often fail to realize that as their man increases in value: 1) others may also take notice, 2) incompatibility may increase. A man should be encouraged to succeed; at the same time, if the man is trying his best, a woman should also aim to increase her value in a commensurate way (not necessarily equal or the same way). If she doesn’t work in the world, she can put more effort in learning to be a more loving wife, a better mum, or a good investor of the family savings. A loving wife, calm mother, and business partner are all valuable roles any honest, hard-working man would appreciate.

There are instances when a couple should be vigilant about keeping their compatibility levels equal. If one partner is learning to become a better lover in bed, and the other person doesn’t care to improve at all, this will eventually frustrate the one who’s trying harder. Incompatibility creeps in. Before they know it, the couple has a fissure caused by ignored incompatibility.

People say they divorce over sex, money, or “irreconcilable differences,” but what they really mean is that they long for compatibility. The irony is that people are attracted to each other because they are compatible. Like attracts likes. But people may later become repelled by the person they were once attracted to, because it was assumed that compatibility doesn’t require work. The value of one member may rise while the other member ignores the positive growth. We constantly upgrade our software and hardware, why do we not upgrade ourselves in a relationship? To be healthy, a pair should work on maintaining equal value, sharing common interests, and growing together as individuals, otherwise incompatibility creeps in unawares. When you upgrade yourself, you will upgrade your relationship.

YOUR COMMENT: Do you think compatibility is something to be settled in dating or to be worked at continually in marriage? Do you have real life examples to share?

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