People assume compatibility as a baseline requirement, then want more.
You hear stuff like, “I want him to fit in with my family and do all the things I love to do—and he should be sexy, and he should take me out to cool places.”
Well, I think you can have an even more fulfilling relationship if you just respect each other’s worlds, and learn a little bit from each other. I always think of the phrase, “You’ve met your match.” You really do want someone who challenges and spars.
I recently asked myself: What would social science have to say to a matchmaker? Damn little. Measures of personality don’t predict anything, but how people interact does. Couples need to feel they are building something together that has meaning. How does a relationship support what you see as a mission in life? This is the existential part. You must also connect emotionally. How much do you respond to each other’s bids for attention? Does your partner turn toward you with equal enthusiasm? You need to ask questions and constantly update your knowledge of one another. And you need the ability to hear your partner’s delight and take it in.
There is a high rise of divorces in the society. I think the biggest reason people get divorced is they grow apart. I don’t see many marriages that can be saved, as long as they have been dragged to the Rubicon of “Marriage”, and I don’t know that it’s possible to save marriages. Did somebody mention “counselling”? Counselling doesn’t work, my dear; by the time couples get to the lawyer, their positions are very hardened.
See. Personality is important. The snag is that no one really knows how to match personalities up. People are sometimes attracted to like personalities and sometimes to different ones. Relationship skills, on the other hand, can always be improved, and they’ll help any two people—with any two personalities—to get along better.
There is also the place of letting logic rule over sentimentality. Especially between a couple who are not all compatible. Just for things to blend. If a man comes home late, his wife may get angry and ask, “Why didn’t you call?” Instead, she could say, “Honey, I was worried about you. Did something happen?” That’s better. That’s healthier. People must look for the best in each other.
Personally, I have an issue with the school of thought that insists that two people must be compatible before they can get along, or be in a lasting relationship. See, no. There is no such thing as a compatible couple. All couples disagree about the same things: money, sex, kids, time, attention. So, it’s really about how you manage your differences. If there is chemistry, then the whole courtship is about convincing yourself and others that you are compatible. But, really, you create compatibility. And then, eventually, maybe in 25 years, you will become soul mates.
People might agonize and think, “Do we have the same likes and dislikes?” But people are not aware of how powerful self-fulfilling prophecies are. We have expectations in a relationship, and we tend to make them come true. The most satisfied couples are those with overly rosy views of each other.
My point so far: don’t be worried that you fell for someone incompatible, be worried instead that you are not even putting in any efforts to make things work, to even the odds, to fight (reasonably of course) to be and to last with the one you love.
It is well with you.
—AKINSANYA ADENIYI AYOSOJUMI