In Part 1, we saw the 5 primary components that make up chemistry in a couple when they are aligned: love languages, communication style, physical appearance, positions on major issues, and humor type. It’s important to specifically lay out who you are in these areas and what you need; it gives you a baseline and a greater ability to understand compatibility strengths and weaknesses with potential mates in the future, or areas of repeatable strife in your relationship if you’re already married. Knowing (yourself) is half the battle. But as important as knowing what you need in these areas is, it’s also equally important to understand the reality of future adaptation.
You see, between the roughly 30 sub dialects of love languages, a dozen different communication types, uncountable physical appearance variations, numerous areas of major issues and all the possible positions on them, and all the humor types, what do you think the odds are that you will actually find a single individual that matches up to the exact same set that you have across the board? Sure, I imagine it happens, just like winning the lotto happens, but truthfully I’ve never even heard of it much less seen it in any couple I’ve ever met. Have you? Think about it. Some loose statistical math shows the odds to be somewhere in the vicinity of 1 in 300-400 Million. You may be thinking you’ll beat the steep statistical odds and be the exception. But when you also add in the God-factor, who wants to use the most major area of your life to grow you, it’s a done deal: the reality is you’ll more than likely never find the exact match in all these areas that would result in an “effortless” love.
I’m not saying to throw away your list and just settle with whomever. What I am saying is that what’s really going to happen in your life is you’re going to find someone with only about half of what you need lined up. You’re going to have to “adapt” to the other individual in the other areas that don’t line up.
Sounds like God doesn’t it? Making us grow and adapt to relationship expectations beyond ourselves. God doesn’t want effortless love that magically works out of the box, no manual required and batteries all included. He wants sacrificial, costly, humbling love that forces us out of our selfish realms to reflect His love for us. Some people miss this fact: in being too picky to find “the one” that aligns to their entire expectation spectrum, they go a long time before realizing that the Godly design is that you’re always going to find “close” and need to work together at the remainder to achieve the deep chemistry you were looking for to begin with. The same goes for people who’ve been in a relationship for a while: eventually discovering the incompatibilities that do exist between them, they’ll be tempted to split with the thinking that they just didn’t happen to find someone that lined up with them correctly. That they just need to find the next person that will. The truth is, it simply will never happen. You’ll find new areas that align, but always at the cost of the ones that no longer do.
Luckily, it turns out the majority of the 5 critical areas are “adaptable”. That is, through time and effort you can learn how to appreciate and even “speak” in different and new ways in all of these areas. The interesting thing is it’s actually the most minor one, humor, that is the most difficult to change and adapt to. The others are far more so. What does it mean to be adaptable in these remaining 4 areas?
For example, you may have love languages of Quality Time and Physical Touch, while your partner has Words of Affirmation and Gifts. Just because your languages don’t match doesn’t mean it’s game over. You will just need to learn to speak their language while they learn to speak yours. And just like learning a foreign language does not happen overnight, learning languages of love is a slow process as well. Just let your partner be your teacher, observe how they instinctively love you, and mimic their language until you understand. And always encourage each other to be continually open about what they expect language-wise. Because just like how you wouldn’t try to teach a 3rd grader quantum mechanics, your partner is naturally not going to want to share the finer nuances of their various sub dialects until you truly start showing proficiency at what they share in the simpler, broader level in their languages.
Communication types can be learned as well. The manner in which you communicate will never be altered at its core (for instance, someone who talks with their hands is likely to always do so), but you can always add layers to your own characteristics to approximate your partner’s. Someone who speaks open and plainly married to one who speaks with reserve is an example where one partner will need to learn to perhaps hold their tongue for a minimum amount of time before speaking or write out what they want to say to learn to condense it to what is actually important, while the other will need to force themselves to add emotional detail and speak with higher frequency until they both naturally adapt to their partner’s communication type.
Physical appearance is also adaptable for the most part. Except specifically for height, body type, disabilities, and facial features, almost everything else is adaptable to what your partner is wired to expect. It’s just a matter of being willing to concentrate and work on the areas that matter to your partner for their benefit.
Positions on major issues are, at a minimum, a matter of compromising. Taking the time to understand the full context (the “why”) of your partner’s position and working towards middle grounds on issues is a basic necessity for any relationship. But in taking it to the next level, learning to decide what positions really don’t matter when it comes to being divisive in marriage (hint: it’s a majority of them) and actually doing a 180 and conscientiously taking on your partner’s position as your own is where you blend the line into oneness. That said, there are certain very basic-level issues, specifically spiritual, where a match is required out of the box (2 Cor 6:14).
They say marriage takes work, and all of the above is why. Because in order to achieve true love, you will either need to wait and find the “one” who will match your exact set of expectations across the millions of possibilities within these 5 areas, or you will find God’s “one” who will be somewhat close and require you to work hard. Hard at putting the other person’s needs above your own initial expectations and learning to daily put them first in *how* they want to be loved and communicated to, while they do the same for you. Being open all along the way with each other. And it’s important to note that since speaking languages that are foreign to you (or even just remembering to) does not come naturally, it becomes a conscientious decision, every day.
In looking at all of this, it becomes clear that knowing your own 5 areas and learning to identify them in others is very important. But to make love really work long-term, both partners need to work hard for the benefit of satisfying each other’s needs in ways they won’t initially understand. Hence both people in any relationship really need to align on three things above all, even more than any of the five areas before: a willing teachable attitude, selflessness, and forgiveness (for when the other person messes up frequently in their attempts, because they will). That is what leads to real chemistry.