by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist
www.LDSdimension.com (FREE LDS online dating site)
Compatibility is an essential requirement of a healthy, happy, successful, hopefully eternal marriage. Definitions of compatibility from the Webster's dictionary includes, "capable of existing together in harmony", as well as "designed to work with another device or system without modification". Interesting.
There are many areas to consider when considering relationship compatibility (or lack thereof): family backgrounds, desire for children (#, timing, etc.), discipline methods, money management, emotional stability, physical affection (including interest in intimacy), issues with prior children/exes, time with friends/hobbies, family of origin issues, career demands, communication/conflict resolution skills, emotional scars/baggage, and the list goes on and on. Challenging, but you can find a compatible partner and have success. Don't give up! And one of the most important areas where there is a need for compatibility is in the area of spirituality.
I've noticed 2 types of spiritual compatibility with successful marriages: 1) Both partners are at the same basic level of spirituality (with areas to grow and improve), or 2) one person is somewhat spiritually stronger and more committed than the second partner, but these spiritual differences are handled and approached in a positive, supportive, patient manner.
NOTE: I do not find that couples where 1 person is highly strong and stable with the gospel and the second partner is far from it to make for relational success or compatibility. This includes an active member dating a non-member. I do not recommend it. Successful exceptions can occasionally occur, but they are rare from my experience.
Type 1: Partners are at the same basic level of spirituality (with areas to grow and improve).
This is the ideal arrangement most of the time across most situations for marital harmony and stability. When partners come in at the same general, basic level of spirituality, tensions run lower, discussions on the subject are calmer, and conflict/resentments are minimal. This is usually true whether couples get together at lower, mid level, and higher levels of spirituality. Spiritual compatibility areas to consider include prayer, scripture study, church and church activity attendance, temple worthiness/attendance, fulfilling callings, FHE, Sabbath day activities, general personal testimony, and so on.
As Latter Day Saints we have the formidable challenge to "be perfect" (Matthew 5:48), although we all fall short of that goal and need to improve. When you are at least "equally yoked" spiritually and at the same basic level and place with these issues as a couple, you can approach the need to improve more comfortably and harmoniously as a collaborative team. One day I will write an article on ways to increase spirituality as a couple, no matter what level a couple is at. However, this article is simply on general spiritual compatibility.
Type 2: Partners are at somewhat different levels of spirituality, but the difference is handled with patience and support.
Although somewhat less successful and more challenging than marriages with basically similar spirituality, marital success can be found with a somewhat discrepant level of spirituality. (Note: I said "somewhat", not highly discrepant). However, this success depends on the approach to this difference. When the somewhat spiritually stronger and more committed partner acts supportive, positive, and patient with the other, the topic of church and spirituality remains positive and slow but sure improvement is much more likely. Occasionally, dramatic positive changes can occur as well. Conversely, when the second, less spiritually developed partner is at least basically committed to working on getting to the first partner's spiritual level over time, this greatly helps as well.
The challenge with these differences often come in the areas of patience and support from the more spiritually committed partner. When positive and patient spiritual support deteriorates to criticism, complaining, guilt trips, and other forms of pressure and power struggle, the second partner usually reacts with resistance, resentment, and either temporary change or even no change at all. Arguments, cold shoulders, mutual resentment, and stalemate usually result. Therefore, if you have met someone of a somewhat discrepant level of spirituality and spiritual commitment, please assess how these differences would be approached by yourself and the other and choose wisely and accordingly.
Can you find and have spiritual compatibility in marriage? Is it doable? Yes. Marriage and life together between a man and a woman is the way the Lord intended. It's the way he designed it. Very challenging but doable. Many others have succeeded before you in this way, and you can too. Stay hopeful and faithful. Remember, "…have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19: 4-6). Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).
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|2016-04-29||Randy Gilchrist||Healthy relationships, Spirituality|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).