The one thing that will ruin a couple is mismanaged expectations. Are long term marriages and relationships a thing of the past? The relationships of the past generations are the ones we all secretly want to have. You meet in your late teens or early twenties and you get married, have children, have great grandchildren and die within close proximity of each other. That seems like the perfect relationship and the perfect life of security and comfort. The relationships of today exist on a much shorter timeline. You meet on a night out, or a dating website, have a hot and heavy make out session, or hook up, and then one of two things happen: You continue that pattern of “dating” until the incompatibilities become more than you want to deal with and you move on, or you blow each other off and keep going on with your life. Times have changed and if you are still alive you have to roll with those changes.
Women and men are enjoying more individuality and for the first time our society is embracing that individuality. Shows like Sex and the City are all about single ladies putting their career first and marriage and children second, or not at all. The older generation still supports the idea that women should find a man and marry him fast. What this older generation fails to pass along to the younger generation is that there is a strong possibility that a marriage or partnership has a higher chance of breaking up than theirs does. When I grew up, during the 80’s, my grandmother taught me all about taking care of a husband, the house, and raising kids. Her fall back plan for me was to take typing lessons in high school so that incase my marriage broke up, I would be able to find a job as a secretary as long as I knew how to type fast. That is the thinking of the older generation.
Incompatibilities in a relationship are the hard, cold truth. Loving someone is easy when it’s new and sparkly. Loving someone when we are unworkable is a choice. Loving someone when that person changes throughout the life of the relationship is also a choice. I have always said that love is about accepting the other person as a whole instead of in parts and to this day I truly stick by that. The best book I have read on incompatibilities is “The 5 Languages of Love.”
Getting past understanding how people feel and show love, the major issue seems to be in managed and unmanaged expectations. We enter into a relationship with a certain set of expectations based on where the person is in their life currently. We fall in love with that version of them at that time. Forget getting to know them, forget taking into consideration age and the propensity for change in ambition, motivation, and life goals, who they are RIGHT NOW is all that matters. From one day to the next, life experiences have the potential to change a person and their path. Life does not stand still and neither do we. The biggest incompatibility is total acceptance of a person.
When you meet someone and you click with them ask yourself something. If this person were to change careers, or have a major life set back, or want to make major changes, would you still want to be with them? If you answered yes, then you are in acceptance of them as a whole and willing to accept anything that comes along with them even if they change. (That is an easy thing to say in theory and I recognize that, however, it’s a good stepping stone into acceptance of change. What happens when change happens may still make for a break up.) If you answered no, you are working under the assumption that this person will always be the way they are right now and are not willing to accept change with them. Your expectations will not be congruent with who that person is and change will break the two of you up. Remember that love is a choice that you make to stay in love with a person or not. So love responsibly.