You've been in a relationship for a while, and you are in love with a special person. But at the back of your mind, every now and then, there is a nagging feeling that maybe you really are incompatible. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but like the faint whiff of smoke, you know there must be some kind of fire somewhere. The question is, will that fire burst into flame and burn the house of your relationship to the ground? Or is it something you could easily douse and go forward with peace of mind?
These are deep questions, and maybe today is the day for you to settle the matter, at least in your own mind. If you are feeling incompatible with the one you love, ask yourself the following seven questions, and listen carefully to the answers you give.
1. What kind of things do we argue about?
Think about the last time you had an argument. Can you remember what it was about? Or does it seem like you are constantly arguing about every little thing? When you argue, do you resolve the issue, or does it just slide into the next and the next until you feel dizzy if you must try and remember where it started? If the things you argue about are weighty issues and you are not able to reach some kind of agreement, then you should probably hear the alarm bells starting to ring. If it is petty things that you constantly argue about, then ask yourself if this is the way you want to continue indefinitely.
2. Do we have the same values?
When it comes to the values you hold in life, significant differences can be a deal breaker. Firstly it is important for you to be clear about your own values. Make a list of the things that are foundational in your life, for example truthfulness, family relationships, and respect. If the one you love is not being truthful with you, doesn’t like your family and is disrespectful towards you, then you will be able to realize that you do not have the same values. Either you need to be willing to throw your values out of the window and take on whatever values the other person has, or walk away and keep you integrity for someone who shares your values. This could be a valuable (no pun intended) wake-up call for you.
3. Do we have the same goals?
Goals are closely related to values, and they speak of the vision you have for your future. Do you want to travel the world and have as many different experiences as possible? Or do you want to settle down in a stable routine and raise a happy and contented family? Even if you both agree on the broad goals, you also need to explore the specifics to some extent. For example, say you both agree to settle down and raise a family, do you agree on the number of children you would like, how will you discipline your children, and what faith and beliefs will you teach them?
4. Can we agree to disagree?
Conflict resolution is probably one of the most important determinants of compatibility. Every healthy, growing, intimate relationship requires constant compromise. It is all about give and take on both sides. If the same person is always doing the giving while the other is always taking, it is a recipe for disaster and heartbreak. If there is some issue where you do not see eye to eye, can you amiably agree to disagree without letting it pollute the atmosphere of your relationship? Again, the issues you disagree on should not be the weighty ones regarding values, goals or spiritual beliefs.
5. What could I try to do differently?
Maybe you think that the reason you may be feeling incompatible with the one you love is because you just haven’t tried hard enough. So think of what you might do differently and try it, then see if you still have those misgivings about your relationship. If you do decide to walk away it will be helpful to know that you tried everything you could to make a success of it and you can leave without regrets and self-recriminations. And who knows – maybe when you take a different approach the other person may also rise to the occasion and surprise you.
6. How do I imagine my life in five years time?
If you imagine yourself five years from now, how does your life look? Would you be happy to be doing pretty much the same things as you are now? Or would you prefer a completely different scenario for yourself? When you think about that ‘dream scene’ do you see this person that you are in love with as a part of that scene or not? If they are a part of your dreams, are they behaving the same way they do today, or have they undergone some kind of mystical transformation into the person you really wish they were? If you are not seeing the person of your dreams in front of your eyes today, then it is time to keeping on looking till you find the right person.
7. What do I really want?
Now that you have come this far with these soul searching questions, the final one you need to answer with naked honesty is, “What do you really want?” Do you want to stay the rest of your life with this person, work on your relationship and take the bad with the good? If so, is your reason for saying that because you truly love them and believe that your life without them would be less enjoyable and fulfilled than your life with them. Or are you saying that because the pain and effort of leaving seems more difficult than continuing with the kind of relationship you find yourself in. You are the only one who knows the answers to these questions.