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The hope is that you and your future spouse will see eye to eye in certain important areas: your feelings about monogamy, your spending habits and whether or not you want to have kids, to name a few.
However, there are other qualities, interests and points of view that people assume they need to share with their life partner that actually aren’t necessary ingredients for a long and happy marriage.
“Expecting our life partners or spouses to be and think just like us can often lead to a sense of disappointment or failure once we actually find out that our partners think, act and react differently than us,” sex therapist Douglas C. Brooks told HuffPost. “Many couples who believe they share so much in common often become bored in the relationship.”
We asked relationship experts to name some of the things that are not necessarily important to have in common. When it comes to compatibility, they say, you don’t need to have the same …
1. Hobbies and interests
“We are socialized to believe that it’s important to share common interests with our spouse. And many couples enjoy bonding through playing a sport together or sharing a variety of hobbies. But there are plenty of couples whose interests diverge. As long as a couple prioritizes spending time together on a regular basis, it is reasonable to pursue completely different interests.
In fact, the ability to passionately pursue independent interests reflects a strong sense of an individual self on the part of both partners in the relationship. And a strong sense of self is conducive to a healthy level of intimacy. Interestingly, couples with different interests may surprise themselves to discover and develop a shared interest (like hiking or bird watching) later in life.” ― Elisabeth LaMotte, therapist and founder of the DC Counseling & Psychotherapy Center
2. Political beliefs
“One would think with all of the Trump vs. Hillary conflict within relationships and families that has been publicized over the past two years, that political differences definitely ruin relationships. But they don’t have to. I’ve seen couples learn to respect their political differences rather than let them divide them. Differences are opportunities in relationships to practice respect and courtesy. They can make us more understanding, empathetic and open-minded. All good things for a healthy and happy relationship.” ― Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling men
3. Sexual turn-ons
“You don’t need to have the same sexual kinks in common with your partner. As long as you have a healthy emotional foundation of trust and have addressed past traumas, working through this difference requires an openness to learning what each person enjoys and a willingness to indulge them in ways that can be comfortable for you both.
You can do this by each creating a list of turn-ons, turn-offs and maybes. Try to keep your turn-offs to a small number you can be certain of. Then communicate about your preferences beforehand and come up with a safe word in case something gets uncomfortable in order to keep things consensual. The main thing is to engage in playfulness. And, who knows, maybe next time your partner asks you to wear a Chewbacca mask during sex, you’ll be open to it.” ― Kari Carroll, couples therapist
4. Taste in movies, music and TV
“I’m often struck by how many people believe they’ve found ‘The One’ because they’ve met someone who likes the same TV shows, bands and movies as them. Yes, this is a pleasant surprise and will give you easy initial topics to discuss, but the long-haul success of a relationship will be based on much more significant topics, like what you value, how well you communicate, and your expectations about loyalty, alone time, vulnerability and expressions of love, for example. You both may really love Kesha and “Arrested Development,” but if you have wildly different expectations about children and your approach to parenting, problems in your future are inevitable.” ― Ryan Howes, psychologist
5. Cultural, religious or racial background
“For couples sharing the same religion, race and culture, certain aspects of raising children will feel more familiar and may involve fewer compromises or negotiations. And these couples are less likely to face resistance or pressure from their respective sets of parents regarding their lifestyle and parenting decisions. However, the process of exposing children to different views, perspectives and traditions can be quite beautiful, and both parents often learn and grow through the process of navigating religious, racial and cultural differences.” ― LaMotte
6. Capacity for socializing
“People don’t need to have the same desire to socialize in order to get along. In fact, many couples work well because one partner is more of a homebody and holds down the fort while the other socializes more frequently. As long as both partners respect the other’s social tendencies, and neither mocks or dismisses the other’s perspective, introverts and extroverts often have very successful marriages.” ― Samantha Rodman, psychologist and dating coach
7. Preferences for cleanliness and organization
“It is not a requirement that you and your partner have the same level of cleaning attentiveness. In fact, this is often not the case. The couples who work through this in my practice tend to first acknowledge they likely have had different upbringings around cleaning responsibilities and try to meet in the middle. Some partners need to learn to help out with managing tasks more often and tidying up regularly, while others need to learn that their partner is not going to do things a certain way so they should let go of perfectionist expectations in order to enjoy time off from the routine. The dishes may not always be put away in the right place, but this is how people learn and, over time, everyone really does win.” ― Carroll
8. Sense of adventure
“There are many happy, healthy couples who have different goals regarding travel and adventure ― and this isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. They first need to make peace with the fact that they aren’t the same and agree to make sacrifices for one another ― which typically results in the adventurer doing their Indiana Jones thing alone or with other friends. I’ve known many couples who don’t travel together and still have strong relationships because they communicate well and accept these differences. They enjoy their time together to the fullest extent, and the homebody feels secure enough to let their world traveler partner explore the reaches of the Earth on their own.
They will need to take steps to keep their relationship strong in their absence through frequent FaceTiming and texts, but if this connection can withstand the distance, different levels of wanderlust aren’t always a bad thing. Each can enjoy their comfort zone and the relationship can stay strong despite the distance.” ― Howes
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