Incompatibility in marriage is a common complaint. It implies the inability of harmonious coexistence and fuels the power struggle. Yet most relationships have some level of incompatibility. I know mine does, and we have harmonious coexistence much of the time.
A basic tenet of truth in partnership is we are not me. When I remember this catchy phrase, I open my eyes to new perspectives. Eliminating differences is a futile waste of my precious life force. Alternatively, seeing new perspectives is invigorating and affirming.
Incompatibility is good news
It can help me heal old wounds, therefore it’s not a death sentence to relationships.
My relationship is solid, we’ve been through a lot, we adore each other, and, despite all that, my default is fear. That is the predictable hell I can land in sometimes. I know this familiar ache of loneliness, deeply.
My Imago Mentor Maya Kollman taught me a really mind-blowing idea:
Couples would rather live in a predictable hell than have a taste of heaven and lose it.
Here’s a recent example of how this shows up in our marriage. Away for a week, I returned home to find my paintings moved to another room. I scanned the environment in a hyper vigilant fashion, looking for clues of whether I was welcome or not.
I asked my husband, “Do you even want me here?” Based on this one observation: He had moved my paintings. Period. (I wanted my paintings in our bedroom, he didn’t).
My fear response: I concluded he didn’t want me here. Ouch. (He wanted neutral decor for awhile and he had left me a love note to tell me this). This default place of the familiar fear of feeling unwanted is so very old.
If my reaction is hysterical, it is probably historical.
Am I wanted?
This a default worrisome thought that gets triggered in times of stress, transition, and reconnection.
If I resist it, it persists. If I name it, I tame it.
My birth story in 5 short sentences:
My mom birthed four boys.
A major historical event, man landing on the moon, brought my parents into baby-making space together once again.
Despite birth control; pregnancy.
They loved me dearly and would probably never admit that I was unwanted.
But truth be told, I wasn’t planned.
This prenatal vibe may indeed color how I see myself in the world. With this awareness, I soften to myself and share my vulnerability with my husband. I heal the old wound through our difference of opinion of where the paintings hang. Willing to see things in a fresh perspective, I let go of the predictable hell and experience a new freedom.
For more information
Please check out the founders of Imago Relationship Theory. Harville and Helen Hendrix broke the ground for a new relational paradigm. In fact, they propose that incompatibility is grounds for marriage! Check out their website — which offers 3 free books — an amazing resource. https://harvilleandhelen.com/books/making-marriage-simple/