I believe my spouse is so much better at understanding and describing how relationships work than I. The fact that I am aware of that may be the key to our compatibility over 25 years.
Last night we were talking about relationships, as one of our daughters enters a new one after several years of single life. I wondered out loud what makes people compatible, despite being entirely different personalities. I used our relationship as an example.
My partner, as is their gift, got straight to the “meat” of it.
“We know what little things drive each other crazy, and we avoid doing those things around each other. We care about, and are aware of, who we each are and what makes us happy.”
What an excellent example of what can make being together either stress-free or intolerable. The simple act of being aware of each other can make all the difference.
As I am thinking my way through that, I can see how that has worked for us. Throughout our relationship, we both adapted ourselves to make the other person’s life as comfortable as we could. That meant being aware of the pressures and challenges we both faced in our life together.
The people we were back in 1994 are similar to who we are today, but there are some profound changes. Maturity has given us patience, and an acceptance that we each need “me time” occasionally. My girl jokes that when we met I was annoyingly “sweet” – doing things that would have driven her bonkers if it had been anyone else. I am glad she let me get that out of my system and learn how to tone it down a bit. That, too, was a lesson in awareness.
I watch people a lot, these days. It is fascinating to me to see how people react to each other. Some walk together side by side, others one step ahead or behind. That alone speaks to how they look at each other. We see many couples who spend their entire lunch staring at their plates, on the phone, or in stark silence. You can tell they have reached a point in their relationship where they may be aware of the other person but have no interest in following them on their journey. Couples who continuously fight may be aware of what the other person’s personality may be, but they either don’t care or are purposefully “pushing buttons”.
I am struck at how simple a thing it is to lose track of the other people in your relationships. As the love of my life so clearly pointed out, being aware of another person is critical to keeping communication going.
How do you measure compatibility? Successful relationships are all about awareness and connection. Without that, you may as well eat your lunch all by yourself, to paraphrase The Eagles.
I’m now more aware than ever that my partner may be the more emotionally connected and insightful of the two of us, and I’m cool with that.
Here are some other thoughts on life: