What Makes a Marriage Compatible?

The first picture we took together, ten years ago.

If my husband and I were on eHarmony, I’m not sure we would be a match. I’m not even sure we would match up in the “What if” section since our interests are so diverse. He likes cold weather climates; I like warm; he loves hunting and shooting; I love art and poetry; he could go for days—or maybe weeks—without talking to anyone; I would probably start talking to an inanimate object by noon.

Contemplating these differences made me wonder what makes a couple truly compatible in the worldly sense: The same style? The same taste in music? The same obsession with the paleo diet or gym?

I felt kind of sad for those on eHarmony, who possibly have a slew of “matches” and yet miss their opposite who is compatible in all the ways that matter. For my husband might not like art or poetry, but he has been my first reader for every one of my books.

He might not enjoy Tennessee’s 60 degree winters (and 90 degree summers), but he moved me back from Wisconsin because he knew how much I missed my family. Due to his introverted nature, he might not enjoy my book festivals, but he happily watches our daughters—and even sends me sweet “proof of life” videos—so I can attend without feeling any mama guilt.

The other night, we had a good laugh while going through all the various ways our seven-year marriage should never be a perfect match. Later, when we were cleaning up the kitchen, he asked, “You never did find the top to the vanilla?” (I had made a mocha cheesecake three days before.)

I shook my head and continued wiping down the counter.

“How does that happen?” he asked. “You’re just cooking, and then—” he snapped his fingers “—it’s gone?”

(I forgot to mention that my husband and I cook very differently, too. He is a chemist in the kitchen; I am more of an . . . abstract painter.)

Lifting my head, I snapped my fingers. “You’re blocked,” I said, which is an eHarmony feature you can use if you do not care for one of your matches.

He laughed, then, and I laughed, too. He came over and poked me in the rib. “You’re so cute,” he said.

After we got the kitchen clean, we zipped our girls in their footie pajamas and made their beds on the floor of our room, because this is how we avoid unnecessary drama on a stormy night.

We got them tucked in their little rabbit and puppy dog sleeping bags, turned off the lights, and then I stretched my pregnant self out on the bed. My husband stretched out in the opposite direction, so my feet were by his face. (When you’ve been married this long, you no longer worry that your feet might stink.)

We led the girls in lullabies as the essential oil diffuser on the dresser got bright and dim, bright and dim. My husband concluded the concert with “Edelweiss,” which he began singing to the girls a few months ago and has quickly become our family’s favorite. I sang as well and listened to our voices rising together in a rather inharmonious tune. And I thought that, though my husband might not be the world’s idea of a perfect match for me, he is mine.

What do you think makes a marriage compatible?


Jolina is a wife, mama, daughter, friend, and oftentimes stubborn child of God who loves dramatic soundtracks, old books, new places, abandoned trails, people-watching, telling stories, pulling weeds, and petting chickens. She's glad you're here.

14 thoughts on “What Makes a Marriage Compatible?

  1. I think opposites pull toward each other like magnets that suddenly click together when they are held close together. They are curious about each other since they are so different. My husband abd I are different yet there are so many things that we enjoy together. As each year goes by, cherished fun times occur. As I look at him now, just like the furst time I looked at him forty two years ago, I still smile and know, without a doubt, that I am a very lucky girl.

    1. I love this, Melanie! I also smile and know that I am one very lucky girl. I’m sure it will be the same thirty-some years from now. 🙂 Blessings on your union!

  2. My husband and I are opposites as well. He has a technical math brain and has only read ONE book in his entire life (it wasn’t mine). He’s patient and loves problem-solving, where I am quite the opposite and would much prefer to take a class on “how to do” something than sit for hours trying to figure it out (part of my impatience, dare I say). But our ‘match’ occurs in our friendship and ability to talk to one another, our love of the outdoors, and I would like to think, our compassion, when it comes to others. I was the proverbial good girl, he the bad boy. Isn’t that how it goes?

    1. Wow, Melissa! Your hubby sounds just like mine! Randy loves to tinker until he figures things out, and the only books he buys are about engineering or alternative energy. I think I’ll stick to fiction. 😉 We’re matched up in our love for family, simple living, the outdoors, and our ability to make each other laugh. It’s so nice to remember those “matches,” isn’t it? 🙂

  3. ***(When you’ve been married this long, you no longer worry that your feet might stink.)***

    That line right there nails everything romance novels get wrong. The older I get and the more David and I observe each other’s “stinky feet,” the more I’m amazed what a gift I’ve been given. Every quirk of mine [read that “flaw”] is glossed over by one of his strengths, and vice versa. God’s gift of marriage defies comprehension, it’s so beautiful. Even when it’s ugly, it can be pretty if you stick through the stink.

    Thanks for another awesome post. 🙂

    1. Ha! “Stick through the stink!” I think that should be a bumper sticker or a book on marriage. 😉 I read today that the parenting years are the most challenging, and sometimes it certainly feels that way. But then God gives us those saving grace moments (making pizza tonight with the girls and Randy while the rain fell outside), and I know I wouldn’t trade this challenging stage for a solitary life in the Bahamas.

  4. Great post Jolina, so much truth, Doug and I are opposites in many ways as well. It provides a much needed balance (:

    1. Hi, Loretta! We actually met at a church in Tennessee when I was 15 and he was 21. My dad had read a nonfiction book about a revival that took place in Minnesota, and he wanted to meet the person who wrote it; therefore, our family traveled up to Minnesota. The author said one of the main characters in the book was from Tennessee, so my dad looked him up when we returned from our trip out West. That was my husband’s grandfather, Amos. Our families got to know each other over the next few years, but my husband and I didn’t date until the summer I turned 20. I like to say that he waited for me to grow up. He wrote the most beautiful letters, which won my heart more than anything else. Though he wasn’t hard on the eyes. 😉

      P.S. Our dads went to the same Mennonite high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania! I was born there, but moved when I was three. My husband moved to Tennessee when he was twenty, pretty much right before I met him. He had the cutest Dutchy accent.

  5. You posted this on Joel and I’s 12 year anniversary! We decorated a paper lantern and sent it off into the chilly Wisconsin sky. Love the post! Miss you guys! 🙂

  6. This was such a nice post. My husband and I are opposite in many ways, but we’re both introverts, so that’s served us well. I think so many feel their marriage suffer if they’re not doing things together all the time. But for us, it works out well because we enjoy our different interests (like you with book fairs and your husband home with your daughters). It’s been 16 years and works for us! 🙂

    1. That’s wonderful, Leah! I think it’s so important to maintain your interests, even if they differ from your spouse’s. It keeps the mystery alive. 😉

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