Compatibility is not a state in which we begin a marriage, but rather it’s a goal to be achieved. Another way to look at matrimony and compatibility is: We fall in love with a personality, but we must live with a character. How have we changed since we were first married? Research reveals we become more compatible with our mates through learning to adapt to each other.

[tweetthis]”We fall in love with a personality but we must live with a character”[/tweetthis]

We can’t change our basic personality, but we can change our behavior. In reviewing our marriage history, we realized we really have changed and adapted to each other over the years. What about you? Why not look back in the memory archives and consider the changes and progression toward compatibility.

  1. Take two sheets of paper and each list the ways you were similar when you first were married. You might list attitudes, belief system, interest, desires and so on.
  2. Write down the areas in which you were different — the areas you were less compatible.
  3. Think about which of your differences have given you the most trouble over the years. Have you made progress in resolving, or positively accepting, these differences?
  4. What changes have you made in adapting to each other?
  5. What reasonable changes do you still need to make?

Take some time to share your lists with each other. Discuss how you have worked on your differences over the years. Have you grown and changed for the better in the process?

We may find that while our similarities provided a foundation for our life together, real growth has come mainly from working through our differences. The key is to remember that wherever we are now, we can keep adapting and moving closer to our mate. Remember, compatibility is not a state of being, but rather a goal to work for!

[tweetthis]”Remember, compatibility is not a state of being, but rather a goal to work for!”[/tweetthis]

Reprinted with permission from the ZONDERVAN PUBLISHING HOUSE.

Written by Claudia and David Arp, MSW

David and Claudia Arp, MSW, founders of Marriage Alive Seminars, are marriage educators, columnists and authors of numerous books and small group video curriculum including “The Second Half of Marriage and 10 Great Dates” (Zondervan). You can visit their website: