Where do happiness and contentment in life come from? The way you live and the things that are important to you about the way you live are paramount in achieving happiness and contentment. We each live a life, not a relationship. Your life is your life and the person you choose to be with is a part of that life. The person you love is part of your life.

In relationship, happiness is not only about the person you have chosen to be with but it is combined with the lifestyle you want for yourself and what is possible to agree upon with your partner. If one of you wants to be a high flying professional couple and the other partner wants to live a quiet rural life together pottering about the garden, then issues are undoubtedly going to arise. Many people enter relationships with significant lifestyle desires and differences without taking the time to be aware of how those differences could impact or change their future life.

The vision of happiness with your partner usually includes a vision of how you’re going to share your lives together. This issue arises both within new relationships but also for couples who have been together for many years and decide later on in life, that they want different things for themselves (e.g. upon retiring). A partner is not able to make you happy if there is another way of living that will make you happier and fulfilled. Your discontentment can leave you feeling ambivalent about your relationship.

Two people need to have similar styles, interests and values if they are to love and live happily in the long term. Compatibility is a natural alignment of lifestyle choices and values between partners.  Joint lifestyles are equally important in keeping cohabiting as well as married couples together (Houdt, Kirsten van, and Anne-Rigt Poortman 2018). The areas that require a good degree of compatibility include:

Core values: What do you each value? Tradition? Family? Individuality? Togetherness? Autonomy?

Finances: What are your attitudes toward money? Are you both savers or spenders? How do you approach financial decisions? How important is security to each of you, and how important is freedom?

Sexual compatibility: What are your attitudes toward sex? Is one of you experimental while the other likes routine? How often do you like to have sex? What do you like to do in sexual terms?

Lifestyle: How do you like to structure your life, day in and day out? Does one of you like to go out a lot while the other likes to stay in? Is one of you always chasing new experiences while the other likes what’s familiar? Do you share similar interests? Social Life? Religious Values? Do you want children?

Combined, all of the above make up a lifestyle. It is unlikely that any two individuals will be entirely compatible in every sphere of their relationship nor is it a requirement that there is complete compatibility on all these fronts. However the more you and your partner share in the core characteristics of a lifestyle, the smoother your romantic partnership is likely to be. The more incompatibility, the more conflict and disharmony there is likely to be. Love is not enough to overcome constant conflict.

It is perfectly possible to love someone but realize that the two of you are too incompatible to be happy together in a romantic relationship. If an aspect of your lifestyle difference is not hugely important to you, you may be able to accommodate those differences within your life together. However if you are making temporary or unconscious concessions for your partner these are not usually sustainable in the long term. Eventually your true desire or nature will call, making it difficult to sustain the concessions.  So it is important to identify these vital spheres of life for yourself before you choose your mate.  

When major lifestyle differences form the basis of a relationship conflict, it can lead to the end of the relationship. This is because when differences in lifestyle desires arise they become the conflict driver in the relationship. There are simply some differences that can not be overcome without one partner making major changes or compromises which ultimately they are likely to be unhappy with in the long term.

So upon entering a relationship do your homework. Discover if there are some aspects of lifestyle that are simply too important to you to be willing to compromise.

If you are in the phase of beginning to explore the world of relationships then the following and important:

  1. Get to know yourself – examine your purpose in life. This includes examining your career choices and goals, assessing your future opportunities and exploring your hobbies and passions. …
  2. Evaluate your life values – discover what is truly important to you. Your personal values are a central part of who you are and who you want to become. By being more aware of these important factors in your life, you can use them as a guide to make the best choices in any given situation. …
  3. Communicate to your partner what your priorities are and what you are not willing to compromise on. The other party needs to know what your deal breakers are. …


van Houdt, K. and Poortman, A.R., 2018. Joint lifestyles and the risk of union dissolution: Differences between marriage and cohabitation. Demographic Research39, pp.431-458.

If you need to talk about your situation with a professional – contact us: https://milestherapie.com/contact-the-gingko-leaf-for-an-appointment/

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