Imagine that — a quality so essential that nearly everyone has it on their dating deal breaker list, and yet not everyone understands it to be the same thing. And that’s a problem, because you could be your own worst obstacle if you don’t know what compatibility really is.
What it’s not
Success comes more easily to those who conform to true principles. When your approach deviates from those, you make it harder on yourself. And compatibility really is essential in building a successful long-term relationship.
But first let’s talk about what compatibility is not. Compatibility is not liking the same things. Many LDS singles believe this, including myself in my younger days. But as I gained experience I began to see the error in this thinking. Liking the same things won’t get you through the challenging times. And challenging times come into every marriage.
Perhaps more common these days is the misconception that compatibility is matching some idea of perfection. The more a candidate matches your ideal companion — or what you think is your ideal — the more compatible you two are. This idea assumes a perfect match will bring you a successful long-term relationship. And why wouldn’t it if the candidate is perfect? Because what you think is perfect probably isn’t.
It’s natural to think you know what your perfect match is. But so often what we think and what actually is aren’t quite the same. And even if they were, perfect would bore you to tears. Joy in life comes in the journey, meaning you need to be changing, improving, progressing. There’s nowhere to go with perfect.
What it is
So if these things aren’t compatibility, then what is? Compatibility is an alignment in values and life purpose. The more alignment you have with someone, the more compatible you are.
Why is this true compatibility? It’s the alignment of values and life direction that’ll pull you through the difficulties that come into every relationship. We all make decisions consistent with our values, so sharing similar values means naturally agreeing to the same decisions more easily more often.
Moreover, traveling in different directions will make it harder to stay together because the desire to move in different directions creates tension in your relationship. If you and your companion persist in not aligning, you’ll eventually relieve the tension through separation. How much easier it is to stay together if you want to take your lives in the same direction!
Get on it
The alignment of values and life direction is true compatibility. And it’s essential for quality long-term relationships. But it rarely just comes without work. Marriage is hard work because it requires you to work not so much on your relationship as on yourself. The work is in aligning yourselves to a shared set of values and life direction.
That doesn’t mean all your values are identical or that you have the exact same vision of what to make of your life together. But it does mean you’re aligned enough in those areas that you fit together like a hand in a glove. Because values and life direction can change as we age, spouses must continue to work at alignment as they grow old together. It’s in this way they thrive in their relationship as they help each other become more and more perfect.
When you know what compatibility really is, you can then focus your dating approach towards what really matters most. You can emphasize eternal values in your relationships. You can begin to see others for where they’re going and not just where they are. Instead of looking for what’s wrong with potential candidates, you can savor more of the good they have to offer. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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