What Floats Your Love Boat?

Valentines Day is coming soon and I have a burning question for all you old lovers.

What makes two people 'compatible'? That is, capable of existing together in harmony.

In the once upon a time of the old west when horses and carriages were the major form of transportation the song said, "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage".

Farm boys and girls could predict what the future held for them as they anticipated living out their relatively short lives in the homogenous community into which they were born. People knew the rules and their roles.

In the fifties, the term "mixed marriage" referred to the union between two people from different religious orientations or different ethnic backgrounds. Christians weren't supposed to marry Jews and Jews weren't supposed to marry Christians. Irish were not supposed to marry Italians, etc. The sanctions even discouraged marriage between Christians of different denominations and between Orthodox and Reform Jews.

Later, mixed marriage came to mean a marriage between people of different races.

As the world became more and more cosmopolitan, in terms of vast numbers of people coming together and sharing space with one another marriages between people of different religions, races and nationalities became more acceptable.

We don't use the term "mixed marriage" anymore.

Eyebrows are still raised however, when same sex couples seek the economic advantages that others take for granted, acceptance from their families, blessings from their churches and respect from society.

At seventeen, I thought arranged marriages were cruel and barbaric. By the time I was thirty-seven I thought I could do a better job of choosing mates for my children than they could choose for themselves.

I've always been interested in arranged marriages and why they seemed to work as well as the romantic couplings we've come to favor. I don't mean just in terms of longevity, but in terms of satisfaction with the relationship. The very beautiful song from "Fiddler on the Roof", 'Do You Love Me' makes the point very poignantly.

For better or worse, we have more options now.

In college, in the early seventies, I majored in communication with a special focus on interpersonal communication. While there I studied attraction theory. It seemed reasonable to conclude that people chose life partners based on their phase of life, economic circumstances, hormones, physical attributes, culture, values and beliefs, acceptance of family, religion, personality traits, sexual orientation, and temperament.

If I've left something out, please let me know.

Even today in a world of computer match making, multi cultural environments, and pre-nuptial agreements, nobody gets married with the expectation that the marriage will fail the test of time. We still say, till death do us part, in sickness and in health.

I've learned that what launches the love boat both now and in times past isn't necessarily what's needed to navigate it to the other shore in the ocean of life.

So, if what attracts us one to the other changes with phases of life and under different and I might add always changing circumstances, what is it that keeps partners together over time? I don't mean what keeps us locked into an unsatisfying relationship. I mean, what makes us "compatible", capable of existing together in harmony ñ to the mutual benefit of each partner?

If you have been coupled with the same person through different phases of life and you consider yourselves "compatible" please let me know what makes it work for you.

What is it that makes two people compatible? That is, capable of existing together in harmony over time?

 —M. LaCourt    

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Marilyn LaCourt

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