Science and Sensibility

A psychological potpourri

Ten Secrets of Compatible Couples

Powerful ways to build a durable, loving, relationship.

And what's romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything As You Like It, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose and it's always daisy-time. (D. H. Lawrence)

Expect to have an effortless lifetime romance and you've entered a fantasy world. Eventually, complacency sets in. Procrastinate on keeping romance alive, and the pedals fall off the dasies. 

Couples who have very special relationships take a different road, one that the poet Robert Frost, called the road less traveled by.  The following 10 relationship secrets can help your love grow.

1. Enjoy Your Partner: At first, you find your mate as someone you like to be near. You laugh together. You feel playful around each other. You enjoy making love together. You see each other as special friends. However, after settling into your relationship, you may get caught up in daily routines, obligations, and personal pursuits. Challenge yourself to break from mundane routines. Make time to enjoy mutually desired activities. You will have fewer hassles.

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2. Foster Trust: Trust is the foundation for quality relationships. When you trust your partner, you believe the person is someone you can count on. You know your partner won't brush you off if you went broke or had a serious illness. You know your mate won't kick you when you are down. You don't worry about patterns of lies and betrayals. They are not present in any meaningful way.

3, Take Time for Empathy: Empathy is a bridge builder. Through this feeling understanding, you experience connectedness. When you recount a sad part of your past, you sense your partner knows how you felt. Acceptance flows from empathy. People who feel accepted normally will think well of those who accept them.

4. Engage Common Causes: The happiest couples I've known have a common cause. Because they share something special, couples with a common cause stand out from the crowd. A common cause is an activity that both partners support. The cause can be anything from raising children, restoring old houses, exploring new places, dancing, to the relationship itself. Because petty complaints and feuds impede a cause, common cause couples tend to avoid these distractions.

5. Celebrate Compatability: Build on what you are mutually good at doing. For example, couples with objective problem-solving styles have more stable relationships. When you both work cooperatively to find the best solution to your mutual problems, you are also working to raise your "couple IQ."

6. Show Care, Concern, and Positive Regard: Caring and concern feeds positive regard. This combination promotes acceptance. Compared to its alternative, ac­ceptance is heavenly.

7. Exhibit Tolerance: By accepting your partner's normal foibles and faults, you set the stage for reciprocation.  When in a tolerant mindset, you realize that your partner remains a worthy and important person even when acting disagreeably. With this perspective,you are likely to have fewer lingering conflicts. You'll have an easier time resolving differences.

8. Maintain Openness and Authenticity: Openness and authenticity cement many great relationships. In an emotionally open relationship, you can let down your guard. You feel comfortable sharing your feelings. You feel free to defend your position without having to defend yourself. You share your vulnerabilities and feelings of love and admiration for your mate. When you and your partner feel natural with each other, your thoughts and movements will flow with compatibility feelings.

9, Give Support When It is Really Wanted: You and your partner both know that you can live on your own. Still, you share a mutual sense of dependence without falling into the depen­dency trap. In the dependency trap you think you are a nobody without your mate. You must kke the relationship at all costs. Free from this trap, you strongly prefer and value the support from your mate. You know that your partner feels the same about your contributions to the relationship. There is a world of difference between the prison mentality of dependency and the freedom of chosen dependence.

10, Work Hard at Clear Communications: When you communicate clearly with your mate, you've dropped ambiguity as a source of conflict. Specificity is a vital part of good communications. This is your ability to say what you want using words and ideas that the other can understand and act on. Specificity begins with being clear in your own mind about what you want. "I want you to go for a walk with me" is an example of a specific, achievable, and measurable goal communication. "I want you to make me happy," is a common prelude to needless bickering and conflict. Active listening is an important part of clear communications. You listen to understand the point your partner is making. Seek clarification when you are not sure. That simple act helps stop conflicts that can arise when you assume too much. Look for the positives in your mate's statements. You don't have always to agree with your mate's position. Nevertheless, a mate who feels understood is likely to reciprocate.

The ten compatibility secrets take work. It's easier to order a Hoodie Footie or a colorful tie than to take initiative to build a psychologically strong relationshipWork to build a strong relationship based on loving principles and values and you'll walk through life with your sweetheart with something far more valuable than a Hoodie Footie or a tie as a gift. Your love and sex life is likely to feel fuller and dramatically more satisfying.

I adapted this article from my book Take Charge Now

For more on how to make your intimate relationship better, click on: Repairing Relationship RIPS for information on how to avoid and resolce conflicts.

(C) Dr. Bill Knaus

All rights reserved

Bill Knaus, Ed.D., is the author of more than 20 books; one, "Overcoming Procrastination", was co-authored with Albert Ellis.

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