Are you compatible? It is the question most individuals contemplate after going on a few dates with someone. After all, what’s the purpose of dating? To find companionship, to seek a mate, life partner, or spouse. So how do you know if you are compatible? Is it a feeling, a sixth sense, is it something as simple as just getting along, or is it more? What does it mean to be compatible?
Merrion-Webster Dictionary states that compatible means; not having or showing any apparent conflict; of having or marked by agreement in feeling or action. And most will argue that the definition is accurate, compatibility simply means being able to agree, get along, and have limited conflict. Let’s unpack this idea for a minute. Where do most couples go for their first date? Often a fancy restaurant where they can discuss their interests, life pursuits, goals, and aspirations over a delicious meal. That first date is a bit like a job interview. And if they make the cut the next date might be an activity, perhaps painting pottery, ax throwing, glassblowing, etc. If it’s something you’ve never done before you will have that anticipation and excitement that can come from engaging in a novel experience. A novel experience is always an excellent way to boost natural endorphins. And while you might see a red flag or two they could be easily brushed off because of the endorphins attached to the experience. Similar to the natural endorphins contestants on location participating in reality dating shows exhibit. Because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t fall in love in a beautiful tropical setting with all-inclusive luxurious amenities, mouthwatering cuisine, and breathtaking views? Literally, ANYone could fall in love when fully immersed in a luxurious all-inclusive romantic experience. Let’s be honest, with that level of extravagance one could fall in love with a rock. So how do you truly know if you are compatible with the individual and not just falling in love with the lifestyle associated with dating? The reality is, the dating phase of a relationship is often the most unrealistic and impractical phase of a relationship. Do you enjoy fancy dinners, drinks, and novel experiences? Sure, who doesn’t?! But once you’re married, the bills will pile up, a colic baby with endless sleepless nights could enter the picture, that cute puppy will grow into a high-maintenance and time-consuming dog, work will become more demanding, the family will get sick, etc. real life will ensue. Suddenly those conversations you had over steak and lobster about wanting to go skydiving before you die and hoping to vacation in Bali seem so insignificant. Were you truly compatible? Here’s the thing, being compatible doesn’t mean getting along without conflict on the good days during the early phase of a relationship. Compatibility means suffering together.
The etymology of the word compatible is from Middle French compatible, from Medieval Latin compatibilis from Late Latin campator which literally translates to “to suffer with”, from com-“together” + pati “to suffer”. Some will see the word suffer and think ill thoughts and while there are those who subscribe to the ideology that happiness is everyone’s ultimate goal 24/7 that simply isn’t practical. One can not be happy all the time. And in marriage we do need to serve one another in order for the relationship to work, it can not be one-sided where one spouse or partner is constantly giving while the other just takes. There needs to be sacrifice, selflessness, and self-giving by each spouse. Thus, they need to be able to suffer together. Only once you’ve found someone to suffer with will you truly be compatible. In a society so self-absorbed and practically swimming in the shallowness of narcissism is it possible to find someone that is compatible? Perhaps. Perhaps we need to readdress the purpose of dating. What if instead of reality shows where couples go off on luxurious all-inclusive trips to fall in love they instead were dropped on an Amish farm and had to keep the farm running for weeks together. Imagine the suffering that would entail and as a result of said suffering they would know if they were truly compatible. Two individuals trying to run a farm together would quickly learn how to effectively communicate, share in the chores, look out for one another’s well-being, etc. all the necessary skills, consideration, self-control, patience, perseverance, compassion, and willing the good of the other would genuinely be needed to have a compatible relationship. After a few weeks on that farm guaranteed those couples will either be counting down the days until the experience is over or they will have found their lifemate whom they will willfully suffer for and with. So, have you found yours?
Do you think the dating phase of a relationship leads to an unrealistic expectation of married life?