What’s The Secret to 80 Years of Marriage?

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By Melanie Schilling, Psychologist and Dating Coach

Ever wondered why some couples become a divorce statistic and others find themselves in long-term wedded bliss? How about the difference between a ‘good partnership’ and a ‘bad partnership’, or why you keep dating people who are just not right for you?

Well, let’s take a leaf out of Australian couple Rowland and Elsie Olarenshaw’s book, who recently celebrated 80 years of marriage. Journalists questioned the couple in an attempt to uncover the Holy Grail of relationships, asking about the secret to their happiness. Mr Olarenshaw simply replied “…Just being compatible…”

What is compatibility?

Compatibility. It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many people overlook this critical aspect in the early stages of dating.

The good news is this: as an eHarmony Member (or prospective member) you are already on your way to discovering a compatibility based relationship.

Remember the questionnaire you completed as part of your registration with eHarmony? This forms the basis of the Compatibility Matching System, a science based methodology for connecting couples with a high probability of compatibility.

So let’s take a peek behind the eHarmony curtain and discover what compatibility really means and how this can help you find your ideal, perfect partner.

Matching people based on the important stuff

Rather than scanning the internet for pretty faces, the Compatibility Matching System is all about getting to the heart of what really matters to you at the deepest level, and sourcing other singles who share similar views and interests.

The questionnaire you completed was seeking to uncover your:

– Core Traits – such as your emotional style, social style and thinking style. These aspects of yourself tend to be pretty consistent over time and are a good way to define the way you approach your life and relationships.

– Vital Attributes – such as your relationship skills, values and beliefs and key life experiences. These tend to vary over time based on life events and decisions you make.

You can imagine that if this system was around in the 1930’s when the Olarenshaws were getting to know each other, they would have scored top marks. The science that underpins this approach is a way of demystifying the magic of successful relationships, and taking a pragmatic and strategic approach to your dating journey.

Compatibility factors as deal breakers

eHarmony commissioned a piece of research earlier this year to explore the deeper aspects of successful Australian relationships. Over 1,000 people were surveyed and one of the key findings related to deal breakers; the non-negotiable reasons we use to rule out potential dates.

The research revealed that 82% of people identified compatibility factors as deal-breakers in their dating life. Specifically, these were the type of things that turned people off:

– Different values

– Lack of intelligence

– Annoying habits

– Different religions

– Big age gaps

– Different cultural backgrounds

– Different taste in music

– Different political preferences

So, the majority of Aussies see past the superficial stuff and consider the deeper compatibility issues when reviewing potential dates. This is great news.

Compatibility action plan

You can fast track your ‘date screening process’ by becoming really clear about 2 things:

1. The things that are really important to you.

Review your eHarmony Personality Profile for an overall picture of your core traits and vital attributes. Use this as a starting point to develop a list of the things you are looking for in a potential partner.

Throw out your old ‘ideal partner list’ and create a new one, based on the things that really matter to you, i.e. you might swap blonde and blue eyes for health conscious and outgoing.

2. Your compatibility deal breakers.

Most people have between 1 and 3 legitimate deal breakers. These are the things that are absolutely not negotiable. Think about the things that would definitely stop you from being compatible with someone – these are more often deep, values-based factors than superficial things.

So, rather than different music taste, you might identify different religion as a compatibility deal breaker.

Happy dating!


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