If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of seeing articles and lists about how to have healthy relationships. I mean, it’s useful to know and all, but I think most people just glance over those articles and either think, “I already do that,” or “That’s too much work.” Then there are the, “How Do You Know He/She Is The One”? articles. Those have always annoyed me because they are too romanticized and also assume that there is only one compatible person on this earth for each individual. So what happens after divorce? Or what if your spouse dies? What if you’re not in a traditional Male-Female-Marriage? What if it’s two men or two women or a transgender man or woman, etc.? Don’t they deserve love too? What if you don’t want to get married, but just plan to live together for the rest of your lives? With all of that in mind, I present to you my Relationship Compatibility Checklist.
- Bathroom Habits – Being on the same page when it comes to things like toothpaste, which way the toilet paper should face, how to hang towels, and so on and so forth can save alot of grief for you and your partner. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree, but you do have to compromise. Don’t waste what little time we have together on earth arguing about something as trivial as toilet paper.
- Bodily Functions – Similar to bathroom habits, but a bit grosser, bodily functions can be a deal breaker. Are you going to be the couple that uses the bathroom with the door open? Are you okay with farts? What about burps? This is the type of thing that you both need to have a clear stance on so that you’re not secretly killing each other’s souls every time you pass gas.
- Music – You do not have to like the same music, but you do need to be able to tolerate each other’s music. You need to understand that if your significant other loves country music and feels that it speaks to her soul, that you will be listening to alot of country music during the next 100 years and you need to be okay with that. (Note: I don’t like modern country music.)
- Food – Those nights where you’re really stressed and you just want to get a burger and fries from McDonalds, your spouse might think, “Ugh, we already ate there last week! And you know how much I hate that place!” Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “We haven’t eaten there in a week! And you know how much I love that place!” Also, if one of you does all the cooking, make sure that you’re both okay with that. If you’re the one who does most of the cooking, you might assume that your partner is okay with you doing the cooking, but your partner might want to cook sometimes too. She might feel like she’d be encroaching on your territory if she said anything, though. Situations and tastebuds can change over time too, so this is something you’ll likely have to revisit occasionally.
- Talking through movies and tv shows – This is a biggie. Some people consider it extremely rude to talk during a movie at home while other people consider it extremely rude to be shushed at home. I’ll tell you right now that is absolutely rude to talk or text at a movie theater, but at home, it all depends on the people in the room. If one of you is a talker and the other isn’t, the non-talker might just have to rewatch the movie by herself and the talker might have to be okay with that. On a similar subject, are you okay with watching DVR’d shows without each other? I don’t understand why you’d wait months to watch something together. Ben feels the same way. Plenty of other people we know put alot of emotional value on watching tv and movies together. It’s not really a big enough thing to fight over, but plenty of people do it. So, make sure you know where each other stands on this emotionally heavy issue.
- Art & Furniture – Is all of the car and sports stuff going to have to go to the Man Cave? Is the man okay with that? Are you both okay with doilies in the bathroom? Do you both like hunter green and maroon enough to have your entire house outfitted in decorations from 1980s Fingerhut catalogs? You’re going to have to look at this stuff day in and day out. So, make sure that nobody’s feelings are being pushed aside and ignored for the same of room aesthetics.
- Jokes – Do you like to tell jokes? Does your partner like to hear jokes? Do you think the same things are funny? Are you both okay with not agreeing with each other’s humor? Very important stuff.
- Heating and Air Conditioning- Is one of you always cold while the other is always hot? Who has to walk around in layers in the summer and who has to sweat during the winter? Are you okay with using separate blankets in bed? Do you realize this will only get worse with menopause?
- Cleaning – There is something I refer to as a Comfort Level of Messiness. It really helps if you and your partner agree on the level of messiness that is acceptable in a house as well as the level of cleanliness expected after you clean. If you want to be able to eat off the floor every day and your partner thinks a bit of mud on the floor never hurt anyone, then there will forever be a certain level of tension in the household.
- Hygeine – How often do you require your partner to bathe? Do you think baths are a waste of water? Is brushing your teeth once a day enough? When you’re sick, do the rules of hygiene change? Don’t let B.O. and yellow teeth get in the way of an otherwise lovely relationship.
Know who you are. Know who your partner is. Be honest with each other. Communicate clearly. Compromise. Forgive. All of the articles and therapists and whatnot will stress how important it is to do these things on the big topics, but it’s just as important to remember to do these things on all of the little things too. If you can’t compromise on toothpaste, how are you going on compromise when it comes to disciplining children or buying a house? As wise men once said, “Be excellent to each other.”