The Marriage Compatibility Test: Do You & Your Spouse Pass?

Adriana Velez | Dec 8, 2014 Love & Sex

couple walking togetherWhat causes couples to split? According to one survey, extramarital affairs are the number-one reason people divorce. But of course we know it's not as simple as that! The second most common reason, another biggie, is incompatibility. That's a pretty big umbrella that covers a lot of issues. So to cut through it all, here's how to tell how compatible you and your man are -- and what that means.

How compatible are you and your man? Have you become more or less compatible over time?


Image via bbernard/Shutterstock


  • What Is Compatibility?


    Image via g-stockstudio/Shutterstock

    Compatibility isn't so much about how much you have in common. It's about having the RIGHT things in common. "Values about money and children run very deep and are important. The surface ones—antiques, sports, travel, and gourmet coffee—don't matter," says William J. Doherty, professor and marriage and family therapy program director, University of Minnesota.

  • Vision for Your Lives Together


    Image via Zurijeta/Shutterstock

    What does your "happily ever after" look like -- really? Will you have kids? How many? How do you share childcare and housework? How much time together do you need to feel connected? How will you make, spend, and save your money? (Ooh, money, so romantic! But avoid talking about it at your peril.)

  • Values


    Image via luminaimages/Shutterstock

    At the very least you two need to share some basic values. What is moral behavior? How do you define honesty? Are you strongly religious? Do you agree on the most basic questions of what's wrong and what's right, and what matters most in life? The importance of shared values is something that comes up over and over again in my interviews with relationship experts.

  • Temperament


    Image via

    How well do you solve problems together? When the going gets tough, does one of you fly off the handle or stonewall? Or are you able to work through conflict productively and come out feeling closer than ever before?

    More from The Stir: What Your Couples Fighting Style Says About You

  • Communication Style


    Image via wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

    How well do you two understand each other? Do you both practice active listening? Do you both feel comfortable expressing how you truly feel without fear of judgment? Do you GET each other?

  • Emotional Connection


    Image via SimmiSimons/Shutterstock

    Do both of you feel emotionally connected most of the time? When you're not feeling connected, do you know how to get there? If you're not getting emotionally what you need from your relationship, that's a red flag.

  • Sexually on the Same Page


    Image via Voronin76/Shutterstock

    Couples counselors tell me over and over again how crucial a satisfying sex life is to your happiness as a couple. So if you're incompatible in this area, it could mean big trouble. Bustle surveyed a number of women in long-term relationships who have great sex lives to find out what makes that happen. They report having: Similar sex drives, similar kinks, explicit conversations about sex, willingness to experiment, openness to doing it any time, any place. And they "never stop flirting with each other."

  • Self-Knowledge


    Image via Ysbrand Cosijn/Shutterstock

    Do you know who you are? Does he? People change over time, and you learn a lot about yourself in a relationship. But you still need to start from a place where you really know yourself. What's more, you need to be okay with who your partner is, right now, the way they are. A relationship is not a fix-it shop. And you both need to feel like you can be your true selves with each other.

  • Compatibility Isn't Something You 'Have'


    Image via Andresr/Shutterstock

    If you want to learn even more about compatibility, you could take this Are We Good Together? test by psychology researcher Robert Epstein. But keep in mind -- and I think Dr. Epstein would agree -- the most important thing you need to know about compatibility is that you don't find it -- you make it.

    "Compatibility does not hinge on some personal inventory of traits. Compatibility isn't something you have," say Psychology Today editors Hara Estroff Marano and Carlin Flora. "It's something you make. It's a process, one that you negotiate as you go along. Again and again. It's a disposition, an attitude, a willingness to work."

  • Compatibility Is Something You Create


    Image via Syda Productions/Shutterstock

    Diane Sollee, founder and director, Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education, agrees that compatibility is something you make: "There is no such thing as a compatible couple. All couples disagree about the same things: money, sex, kids, time. So, it's really about how you manage your differences. If there is chemistry, then the whole courtship is about convincing yourself and others that you are compatible. But, really, you create compatibility. And then, eventually, maybe in 25 years, you will become soul mates."

divorce marriage love

More Slideshows