The Top Three Types of Compatibility

When we find someone who is compatible with us, we’re more likely to be attracted to that person, have greater intimacy, feel connected and have a great friendship. It is clear that compatibility matters – so what are the types of compatibility that are most important to determining relational health and success? In this podcast, we explore three types of core compatibility and what they mean for our relationships.


Transcript

Chris Grace:

Welcome to another podcast for The Art of Relationships. I'm Chris Grace and I'm here with Tim Muehlhoff, and we have an opportunity to talk to you about all things relationships.

 

We get questions all of the time from students, from couples and from others who say, "I feel so compatible with this person. We are so connected. It's almost like they complete me. It's almost as if I have found my soul mate." Then of course you have the others who are saying, "Man, I really love this person, I want to spend time with them, I want to be with them, but we have so many differences. To be honest, there's not even really much of a spark there."

 

The question for us today, what I want to talk about is, what does it mean to be compatible? What does it mean to connect with somebody? Are there certain ways in which we really should make sure that we're compatible, or are there some things that, like, you know what? You have a different opinion about an interest or a hobby? That's not a big deal. You differ about faith, you're now going to be in trouble.

Tim Muehlhoff:

That's right.

Chris Grace:

Let's talk about that today.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah, we call it core compatibility. Because, again, a couple doesn't have to line up on everything: "I believe this, you believe this. I believe this, you believe this." No, but that core compatibility is the sweet spot of categories that you really have to be on the same page. That's what we're going to explore today and give people language to this compatibility idea, because we really do believe in it. Both of us would sign off on the fact: Man, you have to be compatible when it comes to certain categories.

Chris Grace:

Yeah. I think what happens is everybody wants someone ... You mentioned this, Tim, I think, at times, where you ask your college students, and everybody wants to fall in love one day. That's something that they seek and desire. We want somebody to laugh with and share life with, who can listen to our doubts and celebrate our triumphs. It seems as if evidence is coming out pretty clear that we're designed to do this. We're designed to connect with somebody, if only we can find that person with whom we are compatible and that shares that important mixture, if only we could figure out what these traits are.

 

In my area of social psychology, there's clear evidence that birds of a feather really do flock together. When we find someone who's compatible with us, we're more likely to be attracted to that person, have greater intimacy, feel connected, have a great friendship. It makes for happy couples. Even a new study coming out showing that it lowers our risk for divorce.

 

Tim, as you mentioned compatibility, here's what I want to ask. Everybody I think realizes that there's a kind of empty compatibility, that your stars align or "we have the same birth date" kind of matches. Those are never going to carry a relationship very far, but neither I think will the idea of having similar interests or hobbies, because the problem is, if your relationship is based upon something that you see in somebody's behavior or you have a similar interest or something, like maybe you share a hobby, eventually those things can change.

 

We would call those surface compatibilities. Surface compatibility isn't really going to be able to sustain this. Let's talk about some that really are, what you call the core ones.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah. Let me give you a for instance. I dated a girl beginning of college. Great athlete. It was really fun. We'd go play racket ball, and she'd give me a good game. I'd win some, she'd win some. What a blast to just go out and hit the ball around. We both enjoyed musicals. She was a big music fan. Les Miserables, stuff like that. We're compatible there. That's going to be a lot of fun, but is that enough to sustain it? Is there a deeper compatibility that goes deeper than that? Like, do you have similar convictions? Do you have similar goals? Then even how you relate to each other and things like that.

 

All of these things are incredibly important, and we're going to break them up into three general categories. Those categories, Chris, would be what that would break them up?

Chris Grace:

I think we would need to talk about personality compatibility. Are your temperaments ... ? Because really temperaments and personality traits, while they may vary or change as time goes on, those can be fairly substantial and stable as far as their impact. Another one I think we ought to talk about, it's a notion called conflict compatibility. I'd like to hear a little bit of your thoughts on this. Then, lastly, probably the most significant one, at least in our worlds that we've been talking with people, is this notion of faith or spirituality compatibility. We'll talk about that.

 

Before we leave that, though, Tim, there's one concern about compatibility, and you've mentioned it before, and that's that notion ... You talk about elevators, you talk about romantic compatibility or chemistry or erotic compatibility. That is, people are saying things like, "We feel so connected, so designed, so ... " It's almost like a manic state of passion. You see these kinds of things show up in romantic movies and comedies. Man, that kind of compatibility's got some problems to it.

Tim Muehlhoff:

It does. It puts you on a roller coaster throughout the marriage, throughout the relationship. Add to that, Chris, that many couples today choose to be sexually active before they get married, and that can feed into this idea: "Hey, we're compatible. Man, things are great. I feel very, very intimate with you on a physical, sexual level." That kind of compatibility can actually hide the fact that you're not compatible in other kind of areas.

 

Again, this up-and-down roller coaster kind of relationship that people can tend to get on, you have to ask yourself the question, "If that's your future, are you content with that?" I like one psychologist who said, "Your future is right now. You are seeing your future." If you're this roller coaster of erotic feelings towards each other spurred on by pop culture, augmented by sexual intimacy, man, be very careful that that may be clouding you to other forms, what we would say are more important forms of compatibility.

Chris Grace:

Oh, yeah, that's great. What about the opposite of that? Someone who says to you, for example, "I know this person is good. They have such good qualities. They're such a great Christian. We have similar interests. There's just not a spark there. There's not the romance there." I don't know how you'd answer it. A person recently asked me that, and my answer was, "Look, I think some of these things could take some time to develop. It's okay to see if they develop over time. Continue to invest in the friendship. If you like this person, you like hanging out with them, there's a lot of other areas of compatibility, sometimes that chemistry and spark will come along."

 

There will come a day when that had better be there before you take it much further, because who would want to be in a relationship in which the other person doesn't feel that spark towards you? After a while you'd be like, "Well, I'm really glad that you like my other qualities, but you don't feel strongly attracted to me."

Tim Muehlhoff:

That's right. Let me borrow a page from your field, psychology. In comm theory we talk about snap judgments. I meet a person and I immediately make a judgment. Boom. I make a judgment: intelligent/unintelligent, funny/not funny. The one snap judgment we tend to make so quickly is: romantically inclined/not romantically inclined. I immediately look at you and I say, "Okay, I think we could be friends, or there's a romantic spark." What we're saying is be very careful about that.

 

Friendship ... Remember the Song of Solomon. The bride says, "This is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem." If the spark's not there initially, hey, give it time to breathe. Give it time to move. Conversely, man, if that spark is there immediately, be very leery that that spark can maintain its intensity. Again, don't be so quick to put people in categories. Allow the relationship to move slowly if that spark's going to continue. Or, if you feel like there's no spark, give it time. Don't force anything, but give it time to breathe and germinate.

 

Noreen and I became really good friends first because she had ended a relationship. When she got to where I worked, Miami of Ohio University, she said, "Hey, I'm not interested in a relationship, man, I just came off of a relationship," so we were forced to work on the friendship. We lived next to each other in an apartment complex. Man, that was awesome. Then one day she saw me in a muscle shirt and, boom, spark. That's my interpretation. I'll be fair, that's my interpretation of how it went.

Chris Grace:

Let's get into ... Thanks for sharing that. I have a mental image now that I'm trying to avoid. Let's go with this one. Before we dive into the three I think that are most important and most core, it's clear that people need to have a compatibility in their friendship area. They have to feel that they trust the other person, they're comfortable around them, they're vulnerable.

Tim Muehlhoff:

There's an ease to it.

Chris Grace:

Yeah.

Tim Muehlhoff:

For example, romantic compatibility. Have you ever read that book? It's a short book, but, boy, if it's not in your relationships library it really needs to be. It's called Love Languages by Gary Stanley.

Chris Grace:

Gary Chapman.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Oh, Gary Chapman, that's right. In it he basically says there's four different kind of love languages, generally speaking. Maybe it's an oversimplification, but it's great categories. One is acts of service, one are gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch. Now, when we're saying compatibility, it doesn't mean that both me and Noreen needs to be words of affirmation. We're not saying that, but we are saying ... Just to show you a little bit about our marriage, Noreen is absolutely ... and, oh, I have prayed that she'd be cured from this ... it's acts of service. What a bummer. Emptying the dishwasher is a sign of romantic love to that woman. I have begged her to get help. It's acts of service. Mine, words of affirmation.

 

One could say, "Oh, well, you guys aren't compatible." No, no, no. Compatibility is, "Can I speak her love language? Am I willing to speak her love language?" If it's just impossible for me to do home projects, then I would say, "You're incompatible." If Noreen's like, "Honey, I'm sorry, I'm just not a words of affirmation person," okay, then you're incompatible, but not if you appreciate each other's love languages and you learn to become conversant in each other's love languages.

Chris Grace:

I think that is the key. We stay open, we challenge ourselves to learn to appreciate, to learn to change, but to see it from a different person's perspective. That could make all the difference. Someone who is able to do that, we would say, "Yeah, you have a great ability to overcome some of these things."

Tim Muehlhoff:

Then there's one, personality compatibility. This is all in the first category. What do we mean by personality compatibility? It means this. I was a theater major at Eastern Michigan University. I loved the arts. It was great, but it can tend to attract people, the arts are filled with this, people who are really high/really low. When they're high, it's like Robin Williams, who would be the center of every part. A stand-up comic, unbelievably talented guy, could fill an auditorium, but when he crashed, when he was low, his low was low.

 

Personality compatibility is this. Noreen has often said to me, and I totally agree with her, "Honey, if you were a traditional theater person that had massive highs and massive lows, I wouldn't have been attracted to you." By the way, I wouldn't be attracted to a person who was really high/low. What I love about Noreen is not that she doesn't have good/bad days, of course, but she's fairly steady. I need that steadiness. That's what we mean by personality compatibility.

Chris Grace:

I think that's right, Tim. There are some key strong core characteristics of personality. Somebody who's shy versus outgoing. Science shows you're probably going to be born with a lot of those tendencies, not going to change much. You might have this careful maybe organized way about you. Here's the interesting thing when it comes to personality compatibility that I think a lot of psychologists are finding, and that is some people are attracted to someone who's just like them, and other people are attracted to someone who's just the opposite. There really isn't a whole lot of ways that we can say to a person, "Wow, you are designed perfectly for this person based upon personality," because it can go all over the map.

 

What I think you hit was the key, and that is, "How well am I willing to flex? How well am I willing to grow and to learn? How well do I know my own personality strengths and weaknesses?"

Tim Muehlhoff:

Don't buy into the lie of Hollywood. How many times have you heard this Hollywood motif: "She's a wallflower, she's the shyest person in the room, and yet I, because of my love for her, I take her dorky glasses off, I give her this redo hairstyle, and suddenly she is this unbelievable person who ... " What's wrong with that is I enter the relationship thinking, "Hey, you're a wallflower right now. I'm going to fundamentally change your personality." It's the same thing with this bad boy image, famous, insane, is, "Hey, you're a bad boy, you're a bad guy, but I'm going to tame you. I'm going to bring out the good in you."

 

I like what Marlene Dietrich said. She was an actress in the '50s. She said, "The only time you get to change a man is when he's a baby." You cannot walk into this relationship saying, "Your personality is such, and I'm banking on the fact I can fundamentally change your personality." That's just not going to happen.

Chris Grace:

No, it's not, and you'd better get used to the fact that you're going to live with a person who most likely will not change. Are you willing to live with that? That's why I think a lot of experts say that measures of personality don't predict much in this area.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Remember, we read a book together. Chris and I are in a marriage group. We're going to talk about that. We're going to do a whole podcast one day on the importance of doing this in community and what a marriage group even looks like. We read a book by a psychologist on happiness. Remember, she said there was a set point for happiness, that all of us have a set point? Now, obviously, if you win the lotto, your set point for happiness is going to spike, but she says it's going to come back to that set level. You can hear really bad news, and guess what? It's going to go down; it's going to come back up to that set level. She made the wild comment that that is genetically set, and your happiness set point is not fundamentally going to change.

 

Chris, my goodness, before you commit to a person for the rest of your life, know where their happiness set point is. Can you live with the set point, not the variation going up or down?

Chris Grace:

I think that's great advice for somebody who's trying to look at and make a decision about how much and how compatible they feel with someone based upon those kinds of things, like temperaments and traits.

 

Let's get to what I think are probably the two biggest and most important ones in compatibility. If there were a couple who were coming to me and talking about concerns about compatibility or what are the biggest areas, I'm going to tell them I think there's two things they need to look for and these had better find them matching up in compatibility, and that's in the area of conflict, the way we view conflicts. We can call that conflict compatibility. Then we'll talk about faith and spiritual compatibility.

 

Let's talk, Tim, about conflict compatibility. We know there's no completely compatible couples. We all disagree. Research has found that every couple everywhere is going to disagree to one degree or another, about money or sex or kids or time. The key almost always seems to be the way you manage those differences. I think people initially need to be really careful of the myth that conflict equals broken. "Oh, we have conflict, and therefore we must not have been compatible. What I thought was this person completes me, I thought, 'Oh, here it is, my soul mate,' and now it just takes a little bit of uncovering, a little bit of life to go, 'Wait a minute, we've got conflict.'"

 

People buy into that myth that conflict means broken, but really, truly compatible relationships are going to have problems and it's not always going to be harmonious. They need to be careful of that myth.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Right. That's a great point, Chris. Here's where I think we blow it the most with couples who are thinking about getting married. Grab any married couple and talk to them about conflict, and they're going to say exactly what you just said: "Man, conflicts is just a reality. It just happens." Talk to a couple who's thinking about getting married. We do premarital counseling. You guys do it as well. We sit with a couple who wants to get married. They're engaged. We say to them two different things. One, "Make a list right now of five things you love about a person, three things you know are already a question mark, they're a yellow light."

 

Here's the second question, and this is where they really struggle, "Describe for me an argument you've had and how you manage it." Chris, I cannot tell you how many couples have sat across from us and said, ...

Chris Grace:

"We have no conflict."

Tim Muehlhoff:

... "We have not had a conflict." You know what we say to them? Now, this is kind of radical. I don't know if you agree with this. Here's what we say. "You are not ready to get married. If you've not had a significant con- ... " I'm not saying, "Oh, I wanted a venti and you got me ... " No, we're talking an argument, a disagreement. Because, guys, that's going to be part of your reality when you get married, and if you've not had a trial run when it comes to conflict, who knows if you're compatible when it comes to conflict management styles?

Chris Grace:

Yeah. I think what you're getting at, Tim, is it isn't controversial. I think what it does is it takes some people by surprise because they've bought into this myth that, "We're so compatible, we're so close, and we just never argue." In reality, what's going to happen, I think what you're getting at, is, "Well, listen, it is going to happen one day because you were just simply created uniquely and differently." David says in Psalm 139, "We are fearfully and wonderfully made." Then he goes on and describes how unique we really are. Well, guess what? As John Gottman one time said I think in his studies that 69% of all couples or 69% of people are going to have arguments that there is really no ...

Tim Muehlhoff:

Perpetual arguments.

Chris Grace:

That are perpetual because they don't agree on these things, and it's going to come out eventually. I think it's great teaching them how to do this.

Tim Muehlhoff:

I say to the men, the engaged men, "Take leadership. As you're walking out of here, start an argument. Look at her and say, 'You wore that?'" Because it has to be a legitimate argument. I'm just fearful, Chris, honestly, of couples who look at us and, one, they either struggle to come up with those three things that there's kind of a yellow light ... Then I say, "Then what have you guys been talking about? What have you been interacting about? Go find out what the question marks are." Second, guys, you can't get married unless you've had a disagreement of some kind and how you worked it out, because that's part of your reality. I think that's the one that gets skipped the most.

Chris Grace:

Yeah. I would challenge someone to say, "Listen, also for those that had an argument or had opportunity for conflict and have learned/are learning how to navigate and manage that, watch for some key important things." Are you able to manage your emotions during this time?

Tim Muehlhoff:

That's right. Huge.

Chris Grace:

Are you able to identify? Is it easy for you to realize what's really going on behind the surface when someone orders you a venti, not a large, and are you able to start to figure out, "You know, this is really a theme I'm noticing, that I feel when you do this that it's maybe disrespectful or you didn't listen to me." Being able to identify that is one of the keys.

Tim Muehlhoff:

I have a friend of mine, Tim Downs, who wrote a book called Fight Fair. As you're having this disagreement, man, your antennas should go up to say, "Hey, when I disagree with this person I'm engaged to, does her or she tend to fight unfair? Do they get really sarcastic? Is there belittling happening? Or do I get punished by the silent treatment?" Hey, man, if that's coming in at the engaged level where you're getting a person's A-game, you better believe that's coming into your marriage.

Chris Grace:

Yeah. Here's another great resource for you, too: Fighting For Your Marriage.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Oh, it's a great book.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, it's a great book by Stanley and Markman and a couple of those guys out there. Tim, there's one other area about compatibility and conflict that I want you to talk about just real briefly, and that is when there is a difference about conflict avoiders and conflict pursuers. Tell what that means and what you would talk to a couple about if that was the case for them.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah, some people naturally adopt what we call the exit strategy, which is, the minute there's conflict, I avoid it. By the way, the exit doesn't mean that I get up and walk out of the room, although that happens a ton. The exit strategy can also be I just emotionally shut down, I protect myself and I avoid conflict. Now, the problem with being an avoider is what we call latent conflict. It's things that aren't addressed because I'm avoiding having the conflict for whatever reason. I might think we're a loser couple because we have an argument. I might think, "Well, I'm like my parents who argued all the time, so I don't want to be like them."

 

If you have an avoider, that's a real problem, because John Gottman, who we mention a lot on this program, Gottman would say, "Boy, I'll tell you what, a person who stonewalls, a person who gives you no emotion during an argument or just avoids any interaction and comes in this defensive posture, that's going to be really detrimental to having good, productive, fight fair conversations." If you're dating an avoider and you cannot get this person to have a conflict, man, my antennas are up and I don't think you're ready to get married.

Chris Grace:

Okay, Tim, here's what I want to do. I think what we need to do is spend a little bit more time on this topic on conflict. There is so much there to un-peel, to go through. Let's do that. Let's in fact have a couple of talks on this, because I really think couples can be served best, people anywhere ... This could be conflict that you have in a close relationship, it could be in a marriage, but it could also be at work, it could be with colleagues, it could be with friends, it could be with a parent to child. We really want to dissect this. Let's dive into that one soon here in a program and look forward to that one on conflict.

 

Let's dive into this last one, and that is, Tim, this idea of couples that might be incompatible or have different views when it comes to spirituality or faith.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Right. Huge.

Chris Grace:

It is huge. I think of all of these, this is probably the most critical for couples. There was a study done. There were about 24,000 couples that took part in a study back in 2005. Some researchers who were using some of the PREPARE/ENRICH data. It's just a group of couples. It's a way of studying people and looking at some premarital work. They took a national survey of these almost 25,000 couples that were Christian. 50% were Protestant, maybe 15% or so Catholic, and then some 35% of various denominations. What they found was that the greater compatibility or agreement between couples on their spiritual beliefs, the more satisfied they were as couples.

Tim Muehlhoff:

That's good.

Chris Grace:

This is the scary part. Of the couples that were spiritually incompatible, 82% of them said that they were unhappy in their relationship.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Wow.

Chris Grace:

Only 9% of the spiritually compatible couples said they were unhappy. That's a worrisome number when it comes to the way in which we see and connect to somebody at this very critical or what you call core way of compatibility.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Let's break this down into three different subcategories if we're talking about spiritual compatibility. It seems to make sense to me to look at it this way: Are you compatible in practice, passion, in core beliefs and in theological beliefs? What do we mean by this? Let's tackle practice first. I love liturgy. I love going to a church that has liturgy. I love a full orchestra. I love a choir. I love a pastor who's not flashy, opens the word of God. I love the Lord and you love the Lord, but I love going to Saddleback, a popular church here in California. I love going to contemporary worship. I want to raise my hands.

 

Well, okay. In practice, you both love the same Lord, you both love God, but, listen, you're going to have to find a church, and churches tend not to have super diverse styles. It could be high church, low church, is what we tend to call it. You've often referred to a book that, Chris, I think is really cool. It's written by a favorite author of ours, Gary Thomas.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, Spiritual Temperaments.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah. Tell listeners about that very quickly.

Chris Grace:

You can go online and even look up your spiritual temperament, look up this Gary Thomas who has written a book. Really what it says is: Where do you find God? Where do you feel closest to Him? What are you doing when you feel His presence? My wife would say this: She feels his presence when she's walking on the beach, walking on the mountain, taking a hike. Anytime she's out in nature she feels closest to God. I tend to feel closest to God when I'm reading a book that is just powerful. Let's say it's Dostoevsky and he's talking about some concept. I sense that God is there and present.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Or a Muehlhoff book. Or a Muehlhoff book. God is present.

Chris Grace:

Either one of those, then I sense God. Unfortunately, it's a different feeling for me.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Fun God.

Chris Grace:

Fun God, but nonetheless I feel God. It's like, "Okay." Here's what we've learned, and that is neither of these are wrong. Some people feel the presence of God when they're serving others and social justice causes, that's where they know God. We're different. We have different spiritual temperaments. Learning how to navigate those ... Going reading a book on the beach is really what we decided was the best thing we could do as a couple and go, "Let's go that."

Tim Muehlhoff:

This is the same point we just made with the love languages. It doesn't mean that compatibility in practice means we always need to go to the beach or we always need to read a book, but I can speak each other's language and I don't mind being conversant in dual languages. I think that's important.

 

 

The second one is passion. Here's what I mean by that. It doesn't matter necessarily if you both know the Bible equally. What does matter is you both have the same level of passion for the Lord.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, that's good.

Tim Muehlhoff:

You don't want to be a person who is always having to drag the other person, "Hey, let's go to church. Hey, let's read the Bible. Hey, let's go to a soup kitchen and help because our church is doing it." I'm talking about same level with each other. Paul uses this interesting analogy in the scriptures of being yoked with each other. Imagine two oxen who have this wood that's like a collar over each oxen, and one oxen is always going faster than the other. You know what's going to happen in that situation, Chris? The fast oxen is going to slow down. The slow oxen is eventually going to pull that fast one back, because you can't drag the other oxen. That's what we see in marriages all the time. I don't care if you know the Bible more than the other person, one has a seminary degree, one doesn't, but you both have the same passion towards the Lord, that's what I think needs to be compatible.

Chris Grace:

I think that's great.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Third one would be theological beliefs. Again, maybe there might be disagreement between us on this. Let me just use some terms and explain them very quickly. I think it's very difficult for an Arminian to marry a Calvinist. A Calvinist would believe that God ordains things, He orchestrates things. If your child gets sick, diagnosed with cancer, a Calvinist will tend to believe, "Hey, this didn't take God by surprise, and it didn't take Him by surprise because God orchestrated that to happen." An Arminian would say, "No, no, no. Bad things happen in this world. God doesn't desire anybody has cancer. In a crappy world, people get cancer. God grieves that this child got cancer." To me, a Calvinist and an Arminian being married to each other, which God are you praying to?

 

We could add to that other beliefs, like do you believe the husband is the spiritual leader and that a woman is to submit to the husband, or do you believe that you're both co-leaders? We call that complementarianism/egalitarianism to use some complex theological words. Boy, I think you need to be on the same page when it comes to some of these deep ... How much are you committed to being a Calvinist? I'm a very committed Arminian, even though all of my seminary training was at Reformed Theological Seminary. I loved being there, great people, I just don't agree with them at the end of the day. I'm pretty passionately committed to Arminianism. It'd be hard to marry a person who was like, "Yeah, I tend not to view God that way." I think that'd be hard.

Chris Grace:

I think what happens, Tim, is you end up ... There are certain areas and certain key theological beliefs that you have that are going to be more important than others. These become those cardinal traits within the central trait of spirituality. Some people would say, "I really don't have an opinion on any of that," and you find yourself compatible. I think the problem is, so long as you're almost equally yoked, so long as you have that same passion on this particular topic with someone, you're most likely not going to run into problems.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Go back to the practice part we just talked about. If you're a liturgy, if you believe in high church, and it's not just your preference but you believe this is how church needs to be done, that the problem with the American church is we've gotten away from liturgy, that's a pretty deep theological viewpoint. I'd be shocked if you could marry a person who's like, "Eh, I'd rather go to Saddleback." It's not a preference but a core belief. I think that's really important.

 

A very controversial area of research came out recently that said this: While there are noted exceptions, we'd call them outliers, noted exceptions, people mixing and matching simply don't work. This is what they meant by that: People from different educational levels, so one person has a high school education, one person has a college education, generally speaking doesn't work to match the two. One person comes from a family of great means and affluence, the other person doesn't, generally speaking, doesn't work. Noted exceptions, but generally speaking it doesn't work to mix and match status, social position, and things like that. It doesn't work, generally speaking, to take a Democrat and a Republican and make them married. Noted exceptions.

 

This core compatibility thing is really powerful. Movies tell you ... The Titanic. She's on the upper part of the boat, Kate Winslet, because she's of money and influence. He's at the bottom of the boat, Leonardo DiCaprio, but it's okay because their love is going to get them through the Titanic. Generally speaking, you're going to freeze to death in the water. People hate to hear that because, "No, my love can overcome any difference." Research tends not to suggest that.

Chris Grace:

I think that's a great point, and it ends up being something that brings back, as we sum up here, Tim, I think this notion that compatibility is something to watch for in certain key areas. It's not the make or break in many ways, but indeed this idea of birds of a feather flocking together ...

Tim Muehlhoff:

It's true, right.

Chris Grace:

... that notion that there's a lot of need there. As we end this notion, by the way, of compatibility is one that's on a lot of people's minds, it really is a process. Even if you are similar and even if you are exactly alike in many of these other ways, compatibility is still something that you have to work at. You have to create it. It's a process. It doesn't hinge on the stars. It doesn't hinge on having the same hobbies or traits, it's just ...

Tim Muehlhoff:

It's so unromantic to say. In some ways what we're saying is so unromantic. "No, I love the Titanic. I love ... " Listen, I'm sorry, research is research. We're not saying God can't overcome differences. We're not saying that there aren't exceptions to the rule, but everybody tends to think, "I'm the exception to the rule."

Chris Grace:

We have the notion then that compatibility is something that you end up creating. Deep influential and lasting compatibility is a process. You work at it. Tim, as you were talking about, it's not something that is awesome and romantic and powerful, which are all good things, but it does take effort. It's something you negotiate in a relationship, and it develops and grows as you develop and grow. Only God completes us. No other human being can do that. It takes effort and time. Thanks for talking about compatibility with us. We'll talk to you next time as we talk more about the art of relationships.


The Art of Relationships Podcast

The Art of Relationships podcast, hosted by Dr. Chris Grace and Dr. Tim Muehlhoff, is centered on helping you build healthy relationships and marriages. In this podcast, Chris (director of Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and professor of psychology at Biola University) and Tim (professor of communication at Biola University and author of I Beg to Differ), weigh in on how to navigate the complexities of relationships in our culture with biblical wisdom and scholarly research. Listen to get practical insights on relationships, dating and marriage that can be applied to all relationships  — family, friends, co-workers and others.

 

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