I Love You But We’re Not Compatible


What happens when you love someone but your habits of living are not compatible? How can this be so? Here are a few common examples of this problem.

The incompatible habits of living tend to be in the areas of eating, sleeping, and of course, bathroom habits. Another common area of difference involves social habits. To what extent and how other people are included in your lives as a couple.

Common examples of ‘eating’ incompatibility involve acts like chewing with your mouth open and indelicate ways of eating as opposed to more formalized habits of eating. Food choices can also fall into this category even though couples often converge and incorporate each other’s ethnic cuisines over the course of their relationship.

Incompatible sleeping habits often involve the classic difficulty adapting to a partner’s snoring or temperature preferences while sleeping. If your partner makes a lot of noise at night and you’re a light sleeper, you’re in for a difficult adjustment. Of course, nowadays there are things that can be done to change sleeping behaviors.

My wife likes it cool (menopausal) and I prefer it warm (little or no covers) while sleeping. She and I have had to make an adjustment to each other’s needs that puts temperature somewhere in the middle (on a good night).

Bathroom habits that are incompatible can be a source of considerable tension in a live together situation. If you’re a ‘germ-phob’ and your partner leaves things less than hygienic in the bathroom, there’s bound to be conflict.

Apart from cleanliness and sanitation, there are common areas of conflict around the ‘management of toothpaste’ and the seating arrangement on toilets. Compromise as a consequence of some hopefully constructive negotiation is the way to go whenever there is any kind of incompatibility.

Generally speaking, I think a lot of relationships hit the rocks over the incompatibility of lifestyles. Communication and compromise are the relationship skills that permits a couple to form the most functional agreed upon lifestyle. Let’s talk briefly about the psychology of  ‘communication and compromise.’

Communication is the skill involved in getting your thoughts and feelings out of you and into the ‘space’ between you and your partner. If they never make it out of you, they fester, get all bunched up inside, and inevitably lead to a bad outcome of some kind.

If you grew up in a family where communication was practiced then you’re ahead in this area. You’ll take the time to create the expectation that loving somebody includes talking to them about what you’re thinking and how you are feeling.

If you grew up in a home where there was little or no real talk, for the long-term health of your relationship, you need to start practicing. Communication sets the stage for compromise.

Compromise is the act of reaching an agreement with both sides making concessions. This particular skill requires a tolerance for disappointment and the ability to be a little flexible. In a compromise you never get everything that you want. In a relationship you never get everything that you want.

So you have two unique people. They form a relationship. Being unique individuals they bring into the relationship their own unique ways of living. The intimacy in their relationship deepens when they communicate to each other about their differences and compromise as a way of living together.

OK, I’ll remember to put the seat down, if you’ll remember to put the cap on the toothpaste.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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