Despite all the sappy love songs and common sayings like love is all you need, love is the answer, or love concurs all, love does NOT always work. I’ve studied, analyzed, and introspected a lot of problematic relationships from my family to clients, to my own journey of trial and error relationships (until I got it right with the man I married). What I’ve found is that no matter how strong the love and attraction to another is, if they are not the right fit for who you are, then the relationship at best will be filled with strife for many years, and at worst will be doomed. This is especially true for that annoying adage opposites attract. While opposites may be attracted to each other, the fundamental differences in how those “opposites” communicate, relate, and view life often makes for a very dysfunctional relationship.
Clearly I am slightly generalizing, and there are many relationships that do succeed despite having vast differences. But there’s no denying that two people on the “same page” about important life and family issues will have a higher likelihood of long-lasting success, or at the very least, less stress and strife (which is what we all want).
The biggest relationship road block is that of your “inherent personality.” There are two types of inherent personalities in humans – the “generous” type who wakes up and thinks about pleasing those around them; and the “self-focused” type who wakes up and thinks about what they need to make themselves happy first. Obviously some of us, either by nature, or life’s lessons, evolve to balance their generous vs. self-focused tendencies, which is the goal in my opinion.
But when a couple is together with one person being the “generous type” and the other being the “self-focused” type, you will likely have one person always feeling disappointed and underappreciated, and the other always feeling that they can’t ever please their partner, that nothing they do is good enough. Either way resentment blossoms for both and poisons good communication and intimate feelings.
I have come up with a list of seven issues/items that I have feel are critical for a couple to have in common if they are looking for a solid, happy, “till death do you part” partnership. They are (in no particular order of importance):
1. Communication Style.
Example: if one is a talker and the other never wants to discuss anything, you will have a huge communication problem, and likely lots of hurt and annoyed feelings.
2. Family Background.
Example: when one is from a large and very close family and the other is an only child — resentment can rise up due to a seemingly intrusive amount of time spent with their family.
3. Views of Children.
Example: you want 2, they want 6. You believe in strict discipline with specified manners, and they like it spontaneous with no apparent boundaries.
Example: you’re a weekly “Christian” church-goer, and they’re Jewish and/or non-practicing or non-believing. Faith is huge to some and not sharing it with their mate can cause heated debates.
5. Humor & Joy.
Example: they laugh everything off with their dry wit, and you are serious in most things and don’t handle teasing well. You LOVE small intimate dinner parties, they LOVE going out and having loud tailgate parties. Once again, passion and humor for life is best when shared.
6. Approach to Money.
Example: you make it then spend it, they impose unrealistic budgets and/or want to save it all. This is one of the top two reasons couples break up. The other reason…
Example: One of you prefers frequent spontaneous interactions, while the other needs the lights off, and only when you’re feeling completely ready (which often doesn’t happen). Remember that the top three issues couples fight about are sex, money, children!
Hopefully you have several of these in common with your mate – but most dysfunctional relationships have only one or two, or even none. The more of these issues that you two agree upon, the less likely you are to have chronic fights, or major incompatibility.
Of course I’m not saying dump the person you’re with just because you do not meet eye-to-eye on a majority of these issues, I’m just saying that if you are hanging on to a detrimental union where you’re not likely to ever find common ground on important life matters, then perhaps you should realize that love doesn’t always work – it isn’t always enough. Love yourself enough to know when it’s time to stop torturing each other. Remember this too, no one is WRONG, they may just be wrong for you.